Updated September 28, 2023 - 5:19 pm
The political action committee Schools Over Stadiums was served a lawsuit Wednesday by “representatives with ties to the A’s” over its referendum petition seeking to stop state tax funding for stadium bonds in Senate Bill 1.
The PAC said that stadium proponents are suing educators for “not fully describing the petition’s ‘substantive impacts’ on the project.” Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar is also named as a defendant in the court filing, because he is in charge of state election laws.
Senate Bill 1 provides $380 million in public funding for an Oakland Athletics ballpark to be built in Las Vegas. The PAC was created in June after the bill was signed by Gov. Joe Lombardo to “pursue litigation and a statewide vote on the stadium,” the committee’s president Dawn Etcheverry told the Review-Journal.
“Educators will not be intimidated or bullied,” Etcheverry said in a statement. “Some in our community claim to support educators and schools, but when we advocate to prioritize public education, they say, ‘No, not like that.’”
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 26 on behalf of lobbyists Danny Thompson and Thomas Morley, cites multiple legal flaws with the PAC’s petition.
One is that the petition filed doesn’t include the full text of SB1, which the court filing notes is mandated by the state constitution. The complaint highlights that the petition only includes seven of the 46 sections of SB1.
The other issue the plaintiffs have with the petition is that it fails to describe the effect of the petition itself. A memorandum filed in support of the complaint notes the petition only restates select content from SB1, and “does so with incorrect and deceptive information.”
The lawsuit seeks to declare the petition invalid and to prohibit Aguilar from including the petition on the 2024 general election ballot.
Thompson and Morley are also seeking to have Schools Over Stadium’s pay for their legal costs tied to the legal proceedings.
The A’s declined to comment on the lawsuit.
When the PAC first announced its plan, Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told the Review-Journal that the authority was not all that concerned with a potential lawsuit. Hill noted the bipartisan nature of the bill’s approval and that by the time the matter could be added to the ballot in November 2024 several agreements would be needed to allow for construction to begin on the project would already be in place.
Hill also serves as chair of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, which will negotiate those stadium agreements. On Tuesday the stadium authority approved LVCVA employees serving as staff for the stadium authority, replacing Applied Analysis. That move was made to eliminate a conflict over interest, because of Applied Analysis planning to continue working with the A’s to ensure their relocation process is a smooth one.
Hill declined Thursday to comment on the lawsuit.
Schools Over Stadiums’ release called the deal to bring LVCVA employees on as staff for the stadium authority “controversial.”
Despite the filing of the lawsuit, the PAC believes its effort will move forward, its spokesman said.
“Suing educators trying to put schools first sets a terrible tone for an organization claiming to now care about our community,” Schools Over Stadiums spokesman Alexander Marks said in a statement. “Educators overcome challenges every day. Schools Over Stadiums is confident our referendum will move forward and we will be gathering signatures to fix Nevada’s misguided priorities in the coming weeks.”
Review-Journal staff writer Taylor Lane contributed to this report.