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Cortez Masto, Laxalt battle for police vote

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto on Thursday criticized her Republican opponent, Adam Laxalt, for failing to support law enforcement as the pair battle for support from cops with about a month to go until the November election.

At a news conference with members of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, Cortez Masto slammed Laxalt for failing to condemn the protesters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, downplaying that riot and saying very few of the protesters should be prosecuted. She also criticized his role in fronting for unsuccessful lawsuits filed by the Donald Trump administration contesting the 2020 election, and for saying he may sue over the results of November balloting.

The news conference comes after Laxalt last month criticized Cortez Masto for failing to stand behind police officers in the wake of a violent 2020 protest in Las Vegas of the police killing of George Floyd, although Cortez Masto said in a tweet that “this violence is unacceptable.”

Both candidates have received endorsements from police groups, with Laxalt enjoying backing from the Nevada Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations and the Public Safety Alliance of Nevada, a group that includes the Metropolitan Police Department’s Police Protective Association. Cortez Masto has the backing of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, which includes Henderson police officers and supervisors, state parole and probation officers and several rural police groups.

“I have always stood for our police. That’s why on Jan. 6, it was such a dark day for all of us,” said Cortez Masto. “The insurrectionists, they attacked our police officers, they attacked our Capitol and it made me sick, but not just that, it made me angry. And here’s the truth: The Jan. 6 insurrection was the direct result of Adam Laxalt and Donald Trump falsely claiming the election had been stolen.”

Laxalt did appear at several news conferences in 2020 announcing lawsuits against the 2020 election, but has subsequently acknowledged the election as legitimate. In an interview with the Review-Journal’s editorial board on Wednesday, Laxalt said, “There’s no question he’s (Joe Biden) the president. There’s no question he’s the legitimate president.”

Laxalt did say, however, that he still has lingering questions about the election and the signature verification process for mail ballots that were sent to every active registered voter under a law that was changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to Cortez Masto’s news conference, Laxalt said in a statement to the Review-Journal: ““I am proud to have the backing of police groups such as (the Public Safety Alliance of Nevada), the Nevada Fraternal Order of Police, (the Las Vegas Police Protective Association) (which includes Las Vegas Metro – the seventh largest police department in the country), and over 95% of Nevada’s police badges,” the statement reads. “Nevada law enforcement has made it clear that I will make our community safer than Cortez Masto has. I firmly stand with the majority of Nevadans in opposing Cortez Masto’s vote to hire 87,000 IRS agents that will ultimately prey on the working-class.”

Cortez Masto defended her vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, which included funds for the IRS to hire an additional 87,000 employees, including criminal investigation division agents, spending that Republicans have criticized. Laxalt has called for “defunding” those new positions. Cortez Masto said he was covering for billionaires who want to escape additional scrutiny over taxes.

“But the goal here is, yes, to give them (the IRS) the resources that they need to ensure that they can go after these billionaires and these others … to show, one, whether there’s fraud and go after them,” Cortez Masto said. “What has happened over the years is the Republicans — just look at the record — have continually defunded the IRS. They don’t want anybody going after these billionaires.”

In the editorial board interview, Laxalt criticized Democrats including Cortez Masto for failing to support stronger border security. He recounted a recent trip he took to the border, where he said he was embedded with a local sheriff’s department that was overwhelmed with illegal border crossings, a situation he said was dangerous for national security as well as contributing heavily to the drug trade, including fentanyl, which has caused overdose deaths in Las Vegas.

Laxalt said he opposes any form of amnesty for immigrants who enter the country illegally and would set a priority for a “genuinely secure border.”

Laxalt has been endorsed by the National Border Patrol Council, an agents’ union.

Cortez Masto said she supports so-called DREAMers, who were brought to the country illegally as children, and said she’s tried to get Republican senators interested in her efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, to no avail. “So you can do both. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive,” Cortez Masto said. “You can have strong borders, and you can still fix a broken immigration system and treat people with dignity.”

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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