Richardson organizer quits race

One of Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson’s top organizers in rural Nevada resigned Thursday after the campaign learned he had worked for a brothel and was wanted on a felony arrest warrant in California.

“We did not know about all of this,” Richardson spokesman Josh McNeil said after the staff member’s record was brought to the campaign’s attention by The Associated Press. “We accepted his resignation today.”

Kristian Forland, the campaign’s eastern Nevada field director, is being sought by Los Angeles County authorities for failure to appear on four counts of writing bad checks.

Also, Forland was arrested twice, once last year and again last month, in his home of Elko on a similar bad check charge out of Las Vegas.

In both arrests, Forland posted bail and was released. Whether the case was resolved is unclear.

Forland also was investigated by Elko police after women working at Mona’s Ranch, a legal brothel, complained he was shorting them on their pay. An investigator described Forland as “at best a manager of the property,” according to a June 2006 police report.

No charges were filed.

Forland said the bad check charges have come out of business transactions gone bad. Forland said he has hired a lawyer who is working to resolve the California case.

Forland failed to appear in Los Angeles County Municipal Court on four counts of insufficient funds in January 1999, a felony.

As for the brothel, Forland said he worked for a defunct investment group that briefly ran the bordello.

“I oversaw the bookkeeping only,” Forland said Thursday. “I never handled cash, I didn’t deal with the girls per se.”

Forland was listed as the resident agent and officer for Mona’s Ranch from September 2004 to October 2006, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office.

Legal brothels operate in 10 rural Nevada counties. Politicians usually distance themselves from the business.

Forland was hired this month as Democratic hopefuls competing in the state’s first early caucus began turning their attention to Republican rural Nevada, where Democratic organizers are a rarity.

He was vice chairman of the Elko County Democratic Party before taking a leave of absence to accept the campaign job with the Richardson campaign.

With former mayoral candidate Lance Whitney, Forland made headlines for recruiting Democratic candidates and reaching across party lines with a fundraiser that gave away shotguns as prizes, dubbed the “Kicking Ass Trap Shoot.”

The pair were courted by other presidential campaigns. Richardson, who has described the Jan. 19 caucus as key to his presidential prospects, touted Forland’s hiring at the time.

“Since the beginning of the year, I have been following these two leaders, and I know that they are committed to making a difference in rural Nevada. I am proud to have them with me,” Richardson said.

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