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Uproar over McMahill allegations spilling into other Nevada races

Updated March 15, 2022 - 7:10 am

The uproar caused by recently resurfaced allegations of misconduct levied against a candidate running for Clark County sheriff is spilling over into statewide races as Democrats raise concerns over their Republican opponents’ ties to the candidate and investigation.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thursday that sheriff candidate Kevin McMahill had been recommended for termination in 1995 after he and another Metropolitan Police Department officer were accused of forcing a woman to show them her genitals and ingest cocaine after stopping her near what was then known as the Stratosphere.

McMahill, who has denied that the alleged misconduct occurred, would remain on the job and rise through the ranks to Metro’s second-in-command, serving under current sheriff and Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo until retiring in 2020.

Lombardo, a front-runner in the Republican gubernatorial primary, has endorsed McMahill in the race to replace him, a move national Democrats are now looking to seize upon in the wake of the allegations against McMahill resurfacing.

“As sheriff, Lombardo turned a blind eye while an officer with a history of misconduct rose the ranks of the department, and now, he’s endorsing that same corrupt cop to lead the state’s largest police department,” said Christina Amestoy, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Governors Association, in a statement Friday. “Nevadans deserve answers from Lombardo on how much he knew about his right-hand man’s disturbing behavior and just how deep his corruption runs.”

‘Brazen and baseless’ attack

In a statement Friday, Lombardo said McMahill was “investigated and cleared of these charges decades ago, and choosing to resurface these claims now is nothing more than a brazen and baseless political attack.”

“Kevin’s character has been evidenced by his long career at Metro, where he dutifully served and successfully climbed the ranks under three sheriffs. As sheriff, I have the utmost faith in Kevin’s integrity, and I’m fully confident in his ability to lead Metro after my tenure,” Lombardo added.

The memo from the department’s internal affairs bureau that detailed the allegations and included the recommendation to fire both officers was written by then-Metro Lt. Stavros Anthony, now a Las Vegas councilman and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. Anthony told the Review-Journal on Thursday that he did not remember “that particular incident.”

On Friday, Democratic Nevada Lt. Gov. Lisa Cano Burkhead, who was appointed in December and is now running for election to the seat, called on Anthony to provide more information about the investigation and said it was “unimaginable” that he could not recall the details.

“Why Kevin McMahill wasn’t terminated as recommended by Internal Affairs needs to be investigated, and that starts with Councilman Anthony being forthright,” Burkhead said in a news release from her campaign. “It’s unimaginable that Councilman Anthony doesn’t remember a case that involved drugs, prostitutes, sexual harassment and a federal lawsuit against Metro from a female officer subjected to horrific working conditions.”

Officer’s complaint sparked investigation

The allegations against McMahill and the other officer, Bill Stoops, stemmed from a complaint filed by then-officer Jennifer Clampit, who claimed to have witnessed the incident. Clampit later sued the department alleging that an atmosphere of sexual harassment permeated the police force in the summer of 1995.

While testifying in a 2002 federal trial over Clampit’s allegations, Anthony testified that he was part of the investigation into McMahill and Stoops.

“Once I received the Internal Affairs investigation, the completion of that investigation, I determined that both officers needed to be terminated,” Anthony said, according to court transcripts.

Stoops was fired after the four-month investigation.

Reached Friday, Anthony reiterated that he doesn’t recall the case.

“This was almost 30 years ago. I’ve been retired from Metro for 12 years,” Anthony said.

Anthony called the press release from Burkhead’s campaign “pretty stupid.”

“She’s calling me out for not remembering something. If I don’t remember something, I don’t remember something,” he said.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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