Last night, the Attorney General and the Gaming Control Board Chair were called before the Nevada Legislature to answer for their ethics issues. The money committees normally don’t attract this level of media attention and public interest. This time was different. This time, Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) had a whole lot of explaining to do.

Did Adam Laxalt abuse his power by asking gaming regulators to vouch for Sheldon Adelson’s business in court?

That was the big question of the evening. During his testimony, Nevada Gaming Control Board Chair A.G. Burnett recalled the March 2016 conversation he had with Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Burnett noted how that request “has never happened before”, and that “we had already made the decision” not to intervene before Laxalt tried one more time to convince Burnett to do so.
It wasn’t just Burnett who had concerns. At the hearing, he confirmed Governor Brian Sandoval’s (R) legal counsel advised him to turn the recording of his conversation with Laxalt to the FBI. Assembly Member Olivia Diaz (D-Las Vegas) asked Laxalt, “Did you know that the Governor’s counsel was the one who recommended the Gaming Control Board turn over the tapes to the FBI?” Laxalt suggested he wasn’t aware of Sandoval’s counsel recommending such.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford (D-Spring Valley) asked Burnett another critical question. “Why did you feel it appropriate to record the interaction with Attorney General Laxalt?” Burnett’s response? “It was just different. It was out of the ordinary.”

“A reasonable person could easily read you tried to coerce Mr. Burnett to intervene on behalf of Las Vegas Sands. Were you advocating on behalf of Sands?” – Senator Aaron Ford

Adam Laxalt repeatedly denied he did any special favors for Sands, even though Laxalt has had a close relationship with Adelson’s empire dating back to his initial run for Attorney General. Laxalt’s 2014 campaign manager, Robert Uithoven, also happens to serve a lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands.
Laxalt repeatedly tried to dodge Democratic legislators’ questions on his relationship with Las Vegas Sands and how he approaches his duty to the people of the State of Nevada. But when Senator Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) asked Laxalt about where he stands with the Gaming Control Board now, Laxalt dropped the ultimate bomb on himself.

Kieckhefer: “Has the Gaming Control Board asked you to recuse yourself or asked for outside counsel?”
Laxalt: “Yes, they have.”

After the hearing, our team member, Mike Willoughby, chased Adam Laxalt and his staff down in Carson City while I tried contacting them in Las Vegas.
We sought answers from Laxalt on the questions that arose during the hearing. How did Laxalt think the hearing went? Was he asked by Las Vegas Sands to request the State of Nevada interfere in the civil suit against them? Was he aware of Las Vegas Sands desire to remove Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez from the Nevada civil suit? When did the GCB request Laxalt recuse himself? And who in the Attorney General’s office was aware that Governor Sandoval’s legal counsel recommended Burnett turn the recording over to the FBI?
All we received later that night was a copy of Laxalt’s opening statement, and the same prepared statement given to all other media outlets and given to Legislators mere seconds before the hearing began. Unfortunately for them, that won’t stop legislators from both sides of the aisle and the press from asking the questions in dire need of answers.