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Real Water CEO had brief, controversial political career in Nevada

Updated March 26, 2021 - 7:48 pm

Before Henderson-based Real Water made national news as the subject of an FDA investigation and several lawsuits alleging health concerns, the company’s president made headlines during a brief career in Nevada politics.

Brent A. Jones, CEO of Real Water parent company Affinity Lifestyles, previously served a single term in the Nevada Assembly from 2015-16 before losing his bid for re-election and failing to advance out of the Republican primary for lieutenant governor in 2018.

This week, Jones said he would cooperate with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into five cases of acute non-viral hepatitis, which causes liver failure in infants and children, that some suspect are linked to the product.

But the FDA said in a Thursday update that Real Water had not cooperated with its investigators, who sought access to records at the company’s Henderson and Mesa, Arizona, facilities.

The company has also been named in three Clark County District Court lawsuits and one federal class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of people in multiple states who say they became ill after consuming Real Water.

On Wednesday, the company issued recalls on Real Water water and concentrate.

Red wave

Jones’ local political career began in 2014, when he defeated incumbent Assemblyman James Healey in the state’s 35th District, a chunk of southwestern Clark County, by about 700 votes, or 7 percentage points. Though he had no governing experience and was outraised by Healey, 2014 marked a “red wave” of Republican victories in Nevada and nationwide.

Republicans won every statewide executive office, captured a majority in both houses of the Legislature and saw then-incumbent Rep. Steven Horsford defeated by former Rep. Cresent Hardy.

The party also won control of the U.S. Senate and held the largest Republican congressional majority in almost a century after election night.

Jones listed his occupation on his legislative bio as owner of Real Water. He was also an attorney licensed to practice in California.

During his term, he sponsored several unsuccessful conservative efforts, including a Republican attempt to require voters to show identification before receiving a ballot and a bill to kill the state’s health insurance exchange. He was a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act and former President Barack Obama and most tax increases.

Extortion scheme allegations

In 2015, Jones was implicated, though never criminally charged, in an extortion scheme against fellow GOP Assemblyman Chris Edwards.

Tony Dane, a local Republican political strategist, was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2016 and accused of attempting to force Edwards and other GOP members into changing their votes for Assembly speaker. The case remains open.

A court approved wiretaps of Jones, who was believed to be a part of Dane’s scheme, but Jones was not charged.

In 2016, Jones was accused of forcing a former Real Water employee to watch videos based on the Church of Scientology as part of her employment. Jones, a Scientologist, denied the allegation, and the lawsuit was moved to arbitration. The result was unclear.

Jones escaped a crowded 2016 Republican primary field for his Assembly seat before losing to Democrat Justin Watkins by fewer than 3,000 votes, or 9 percentage points. Watkins raised nearly $250,000 and spent about $200,000, while Jones raised about $69,000 and spent less than $60,000.

He then tried to run to the right of former state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson in the 2018 Republican primary for lieutenant governor. Jones criticized the state’s Republican executive and legislative bodies for passing a commerce tax to fund education in 2015.

Jones finished second to Roberson in the primary by more than 30 percentage points. Roberson would lose to current Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, as part of a sweeping statewide victory for Democrats in 2018.

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

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