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Raggio attacks Gibbons’ statement on meetings

CARSON CITY — A peeved Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio accused Gov. Jim Gibbons on Wednesday of not telling the truth on a television show when he said the senator was not showing up for hearings on the state’s budget shortfall.

"Either the governor’s memory is failing or he has been misinformed, or he is intentionally distorting the facts," Raggio said.

Both men are Republicans, but Raggio, a 38-year veteran of the Senate, has been outspoken about Gibbons in recent weeks.

Raggio supports former U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval to become the state’s next governor. Sandoval and Raggio work at the same Reno law firm.

In an interview Tuesday on Sam Shad’s "Nevada Newsmakers" TV show in Reno, Gibbons said Raggio did not "show up" at most of the meetings in the governor’s office when ways to deal with the state’s $887 million budget shortfall were discussed.

But Raggio said at least eight meetings on the shortfall were conducted before the special session opened Tuesday. He said he was present for all of the meetings and Gibbons did not attend six of them.

"I don’t understand why he wants to pick a fight with me — unless it’s for political reasons because I am supporting his primary opponent," Raggio said.

Gibbons did not immediately return a call for comment on Raggio’s statements.

Raggio last week proposed the Legislature consider a plan to raise $250 million by leasing state buildings to investors and then paying rent on them for 20 years. Then the leases would revert to the state.

The plan is among the campaign initiatives announced by Sandoval.

Gibbons almost immediately issued a news release denouncing the plan and calling Sandoval Raggio’s "law partner."

Raggio said Wednesday that he is not taking a hard-line approach demanding the legislators approve the lease plan, but that it is a way to secure additional funds during the special session without increasing taxes.

Arizona last week executed an agreement with investors to secure $635 million by leasing its state buildings.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-697-3901.

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