The best political attack? One your opponent can’t answer

Perhaps the most brutal thing about the independent-expenditure TV ad targeting state Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, is that he can’t respond to it.

That’s because the ad references a case in which Jones, an attorney, represented the Las Vegas Sands Corp. in a lawsuit filed by former Sands China CEO Steven Jacobs. Lawyers for the Sands told state District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzales that a computer disc they sought was located in Macau and protected by laws in that country, when in fact they had brought a copy of the disc to the United States and reviewed evidence on it. Gonzales said the attorneys representing Sands engaged in conduct that amounted to “very serious violations of duties of candor to the court.”

The judge ultimately fined Sands $25,000 for the violation.

“Serious violations of candor. That’s what a judge had to say about Justin Jones,” the ad says. “She said that Jones intended to deceive the court. Jones’s lack of honesty caused the judge to hand down a $25,000 fine.”

But that’s not accurate. Jones was never personally singled out for criticism by the judge, nor was he the lead counsel in the case. Jones was in court when attorneys for Sands told Gonzales that the disc couldn’t be brought to Las Vegas. He later said in testimony about the incident that “I did nothing,” after hearing a colleague say in court the evidence couldn’t be obtained.

The situation is a dicey one for a lawyer: It requires balancing the attorney-client privilege with a duty to provide only truthful information in court. Shortly after the incident, Jones left the Sands legal team, and, ultimately, the Holland & Hart law firm where he worked at the time. He now works at Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman, Rabkin LLP.

I’ve written previously that it’s very real possibility that Jones — who is still bound by his attorney-client privilege, even though Sands is no longer an active client — raised objections to the false statement within the Sands legal team, and either quit or was dismissed from it. And this issue was used (unsuccessfully) by Jones’s 2012 opponent, Mari Nakashima St. Martin, who’s now a spokeswoman for Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Will it resonate now that it’s being touted by the “Nevada Jobs Coalition”? That’s a PAC whose resident agent is Chrissie Hastie, and which shares its address with three other, similar PACs. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the coalition is run out of the offices of November Inc., the political consulting firm run by Sandoval adviser Mike Slanker.

That group also runs a website dubbed The Jones Report, which accuses Jones (among other things) of representing “questionable clients.” Oddly, and notably, Las Vegas Sands — a major donor to Republican causes which itself gave the coalition $50,000 in 2010(!) — is not listed among those “questionable clients,” nor is the company ever named in the ad, notwithstanding the fact that Sands (not Jones) was fined in the case in question.

All in all, it seems like a serious violation of candor. And maybe even an intent to deceive voters. Definitely a lack of honesty.

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