Of scandals and scoundrels

For newcomers to Nevada, allow me to put into perspective the divorce scandal making news out of the Governor’s Mansion these days. I don’t mean to minimize the dirt flying between first lady Dawn Gibbons and Gov. Jim Gibbons. It surely will get worse before it’s over.

And, it should be noted, this is not the first time something other than marital bliss has clouded the governor’s official residence. Some 25 years ago we had a governor thrown out of the mansion by his wife. Like in an episode of “The Honeymooners,” she threw his clothes and personal stuff out the second-story window. The couple managed to publicly hold things together for the remainder of his term.

Between then and now, so far as I can remember, Nevada governors have been downright boring from a marital news standpoint. Dick and Bonnie Bryan? Zzzzzzz. Ditto for Bob and Sandy Miller and Kenny and Dema Guinn. If there were fireworks in their marriages, they were, well, good fireworks.

But when it comes to sex, scandal and scoundrels in Nevada, the Gibbons’ split is almost nothing considering that Clark County is just winding up a massive bribery scandal, which saw four of seven sitting county commissioners go to jail. The corruption was facilitated by a former commissioner who gave cash bribes to three of his colleagues on behalf of a notorious strip club owner. Besides money, a male commissioner accepted oral sex from a stripper on the second tee-box of a local golf course. Fore!

Then, in a weird form of reciprocity (even by Las Vegas standards) a female commissioner took money from the strip club owner and — according to his testimony — gave him oral sex. Yecch!

The third commissioner, a grandmother, took only money, and so far as we know neither gave nor accepted oral sex. Thank goodness some bribed county officials do have sexual standards.

There were also a number of the city’s finest lawyers (including folks with the district attorney’s office) who availed themselves of complimentary lap dances and services at the strip club in question. That fact generally gets lost in the shuffle because if we’re going to try to list non-criminal, sexual encounters with lawyers and secondary Las Vegas public officials, well, there’s not enough space in all the Review-Journal to chronicle it in a month, much less one day.

We’ve had drunken mayors detained by hotel security for groping the breasts of women at a cocktail party, we’ve had city councilmen boasting about poking a city vendor and, I am sad to say, we’ve had elected and appointed officials stooping so low as to sleep with news folks.

We’ve had a former constitutional officer of the state allegedly poisoned and killed by her husband; a newlywed assemblywoman arrested for stabbing her husband in the arm with a steak knife; a former state senator caught with wads of cash stuffed in his pants; a handful of legislators coping with mental illness; any number of judges, from the Supreme Court on down, dealing with prescription drug problems, gambling problems and rub-my-feet problems.

And, in one of the more revolting displays of sex in the city, the spouse of a former mayor once kissed and fondled another woman. Not in private. He did it at the head banquet table while the mayor gave a speech. They divorced soon thereafter.

So, I am sure all Nevadans are saddened to see the marriage of the governor and his wife fall apart before our eyes. But we are a hardened and hearty people. When it comes to sex, scandal and scoundrels, we’ve seen a lot.

Sherman Frederick (sfrederick@reviewjournal.com) is president of the Stephens Media and publisher of the Review-Journal.

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