Allegations that Gov. Jim Gibbons had an extramarital affair have cropped up again, just in time to distract from his State of the State address.
This time the allegations that Gibbons had an extramarital affair with Leslie Durant, the ex-wife of former Reno Mayor Pete Sferrazza, come from Wendy Mazaros, who said she and Durant were roommates in 1994.
Mazaros discussed with television station KLAS a legal deposition she gave related to Gibbons’ divorce from his wife, Dawn, late last year. The allegations were aired Sunday and Monday on Channel 8.
The relationship between Gibbons and Durant — which both have said is not sexual — has been in the news for months.
Mazaros told the TV station she saw evidence of an extramarital affair, including furtive phone calls, jewelry and visits, while she and Durant were roommates in Reno 16 years ago. The deposition document, shown on KLAS, is dated May 18, 2009.
Mazaros and her attorney, Herb Sachs, said they wouldn’t discuss the issue beyond what was in the deposition shared with KLAS. According to KLAS, Mazaros is the former common law wife of notorious union organizer Tom Hanley, who went to prison for murdering local Culinary union boss Al Bramlet in 1977.
Gibbons’ spokesman Dan Burns said, "Anything in that woman’s deposition is patently false."
The resurgence of old allegations came less than 24 hours before Gibbons was to deliver a State of the State speech to discuss how Nevada state government should cope with a budget shortfall of nearly $900 million.
Rehashing tales from Gibbons’ personal life, whether true or false, will distract citizens from his handling of the budget crisis, said Eric Herzik, a political science professor at University of Nevada, Reno.
"His problem is the story doesn’t go away," Herzik said. "He wants to talk about what a tough guy he is on the budget."
In addition to the divorce, Gibbons was recently deposed related to a civil case by former Las Vegas cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo, who has accused Gibbons of trying to assault her in a parking garage in 2006, an allegation the governor denies and that the district attorney declined to prosecute.
Ron Bath, Gibbons’ longtime friend and campaign manager, says the allegations won’t prompt Gibbons to discontinue his re-election campaign despite that he is trailing fellow Republican Brian Sandoval in statewide opinion polls.
"I know this guy. He is not going to back down," Bath said.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspill firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3861.