Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Cortez Masto’

Las Vegas Firm Ordered To Pay $125,000 For Medicaid Fraud

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:28 pm October 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A behavioral health company based in Las Vegas was fined $125,000 today in a Medicaid fraud case involving the failure to maintain adequate records to support Medicaid claims.

Rainbow Child and Family Services was sentenced for one gross misdemeanor offense of intentional failure to maintain adequate records by Clark County District Judge Valerie Adair and ordered to pay the $125,000 in restitution, penalties, and costs.

Persons convicted of Medicaid fraud may also be administratively excluded from future Medicaid and Medicare participation.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced the sentencing.

“Businesses need to pay attention when processing Medicaid claims,” Masto said. “This office continues to investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud cases.”

The AG’s office began an investigation after information was obtained that Rainbow was not providing services to Medicaid recipients. Interviews with Medicaid recipients showed that Rainbow was not providing the Basic Skills Training (BST) and Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) services to the recipients as indicated on claims submitted to Medicaid. Furthermore, the documentation to substantiate the claims submitted to Medicaid was inadequate as the records did not note accurate or true dates or types of services provided.

The fraud occurred from August 2011 to April 2012.

The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Nevada Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), which investigates and prosecutes financial fraud by those providing healthcare services or goods to Medicaid patients. The MFCU also investigates and prosecutes instances of elder abuse or neglect.

Las Vegas Woman Sentenced in Medicaid Fraud Case

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:22 am October 5th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced today that Aurora Volero-Alvarez, 61, of Las Vegas, has been sentenced in a Medicaid fraud case involving the false reporting of personal care services.

Volero-Alvarez pled guilty to a misdemeanor offense of submission of false Medicaid claims. Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson sentenced her on Thursday to 90 days jail, suspended; 40 hours of community service; a “stay out of trouble” provision; and ordered her to repay $18,450 in restitution and penalties. Persons convicted of Medicaid fraud may also be administratively excluded from future Medicaid participation.

“An anonymous tip led to this successful investigation and prosecution,” Masto said. “Our thanks go out to that person. A whistleblower sent us a letter informing my office that Volero-Alvarez had claimed she had provided services to clients who were not actually present to receive services. Tips like this one help our office ensure the integrity of Medicaid and help us return money for use by Nevadans in need.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

An investigation proved her patients were at other care facilities when Volero-Alvarez was claiming to have provided home bound services. Volero-Alvarez provided this false information to her employer and received payment as if she had actually performed the services. The fraud occurred from about December 2009 to February 2011.

The Medicaid PCA program enables people to live independently in their own homes by providing personal assistance with basic services, including bathing, dressing, cleaning and meal preparation. Medicaid contracts with home care companies that in turn employ individuals to provide the actual day-to-day care.

The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which investigates and prosecutes financial fraud by those providing healthcare services or goods to Medicaid patients.

Nevada Attorney General Announces Two Nationwide Settlements Over Anti-Psychotic Drugs, E-Books

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:39 am August 30th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Attorney General’s Office has reached two separate agreements this week, one with a pharmaceutical firm over the marketing of anti-psychotic drugs and another with three book publishers over e-book price-fixing allegations.

The $181 million nationwide settlement announced today with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical, will bring $3.3 million to Nevada. It is the largest multi-state consumer protection settlement of its kind reached with a pharmaceutical company.

Photo by Housed via Wikimedia Commons.

The $69 million agreement with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster will return up to $600,000 in total compensation to Nevada consumers who purchased e-books.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said she and 36 other attorneys general reached the agreement  with Janssen after a multi-state investigation found that the company improperly marketed the anti-psychotic drugs Risperdal, Risperdal Consta, Risperdal M-Tab and Invega.

After an extensive four-year investigation, Janssen agreed to change not only how it promotes and markets its atypical antipsychotics but also agreed to refrain from any false, misleading or deceptive promotion of the drugs. In addition to the record-setting payment, the settlement targets specific concerns identified in the investigation. The settlement agreement restricts Janssen from promoting its atypical anti-psychotic drugs for “off-label” uses that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved.

Federal law prohibits pharmaceutical manufacturers from promoting their products for off-label uses, although physicians may prescribe drugs for those uses. The complaint alleges that Janssen promoted Risperdal for off-label uses to both geriatric and pediatric populations, targeting patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety, when these uses were not FDA-approved and for which Janssen had not established that Risperdal was safe and effective.

“Nevadans have a right to know the risks presented by atypical anti-psychotic drugs,” Masto said. “The settlement will protect Nevadans from further promotion of Janssen’s atypical anti-psychotic drugs for ‘off-label’ uses.”

The antitrust settlement with the book publishers, announced Wednesday by Masto and 54 attorneys general in other states, districts and U.S. territories, will also result in changes to the way they price e-books going forward.

The settlement is occurring in conjunction with a civil antitrust lawsuit filed today in federal court against Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster. In the lawsuit the states allege that the three settling publishers and others, including non-settling publishers Macmillan and Penguin (collectively, the “Agency Five” publishers), “conspired and agreed to increase retail e-book prices for all consumers” and “agreed to eliminate e-book retail price competition between e-book outlets, such that retail prices to consumers would be the same regardless of the outlet patronized by the consumer.”

Under the proposed settlement agreement, which the court must approve, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will compensate consumers who purchased e-books from any of the Agency Five during the period of April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012. Payments will begin 30 days after court approval of the settlement becomes final.

“Today’s settlement restores e-book competition among retailers and paves the way for restitution for Nevadans harmed by the scheme,” Masto said. “This news comes at a welcome time, considering the Silver State’s sluggish economy and the fact that this is the first week back to school for many K-12 and college students in Nevada. Our legal action sends a strong message that competitors cannot get away with price-fixing.”

Attorney General Urges Nevadans To Apply For Free Foreclosure Review By New Sept. 30 Deadline

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:01 pm July 6th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The deadline for a free, federal independent foreclosure review for Nevadans whose homes were in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 has been extended to Sept. 30, 2012, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said today.

The previous deadline was July 31.

Photo by respres via Wikimedia Commons.

Ordered by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the independent foreclosure review will determine whether individuals suffered financial injury and should receive compensation or other remedy because of errors or other problems which occurred during the foreclosure process.

“Do not wait until the extended Sept. 30 deadline to submit your application for a free and independent foreclosure review,” Masto said.

According to the OCC’s recent report, as of May 31, 108,687 Nevadans who are eligible for the review received a mailing and 4,267 Nevadans submitted requests for review.

Information about Independent Foreclosure Review may appear in this format in advertisements and postcard notices that eligible borrowers recently received by mail.

More information, including edibility and online applications is available at www.independentforeclosurereview.com or 888-952-9105 (between 8 am and 10 pm (Eastern), Monday through Friday, and between 8 am and 5 pm Saturday). All requests for Review Forms must be submitted online or postmarked no later than September 30, 2012. Not every finding will result in compensation or other remedy.

In first announcing the program on May 31, Masto said: “I encourage Nevadans hurt by foreclosure errors and who are eligible, to apply for a free review before the July 31 (now Sept. 30) deadline. In doing so, beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee for any foreclosure review service and immediately report those persons or companies to my office.”

To be eligible, the foreclosure process must have been active between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010. The property securing the loan must have been a primary residence, and the mortgage must have been serviced by: America’s Servicing Co., Aurora Loan Services, BAC Home Loans Servicing, Bank of America, Beneficial, Chase, Citibank, CitiFinancial, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, EMC, EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company, Financial Freedom, GMAC Mortgage, HFC, HSBC, IndyMac Mortgage Services, MetLife Bank, National City Mortgage, PNC Mortgage, Sovereign Bank, SunTrust Mortgage, U.S. Bank, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, or Wilshire Credit Corporation.

More than 4.3 million forms and letters explaining the process were sent to eligible homeowners in 2011. Nevada residents who received a letter should be aware it is a legitimate program.

Anyone who wants to report an independent foreclosure review scam can contact the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Hotline at 702-486-3132 or visit http://bit.ly/NVAGComplaintForms.

 

Transportation Board Member Questions Selection Process For New Agency Director

By Sean Whaley | 10:59 am April 5th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A member of the state Transportation Department Board of Directors questioned today the proposed selection process for a new agency director.

Member Tom Fransway questioned whether the construction industry should be involved in the process of selecting the finalists to bring to the board for an appointment to replace Director Susan Martinovich, who is retiring on Sept. 6.

Fransway said the director and governor should pick the finalists.

At that point, the construction industry and others could get involved, he said.

“Because you are leaving with the highest of standing,” Fransway told Martinovich. “You know the job description. You know the ins and outs of the way the department is handled. And I am very comfortable with having you go through the applications, after HR (human resources) looks at them, along with the governor’s office, because this is a cabinet level position.”

Susan Martinovich, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation, is retiring in September. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

But other members of the board, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, supported the selection process and the involvement of the construction industry in picking finalists for the position.

Martinovich said the process outlined to the board at its meeting today is new, and is intended to make the selection transparent for the public.

Two members of the construction industry, one from northern Nevada and another from the south, would be among seven members of a selection committee to review the applicants and recommend at least three finalists to the board. Also involved in the review would be a representative of the Nevada Association of Counties, representatives of the northern and southern Regional Transportation Commission boards, a transportation industry member and a member of the governor’s staff.

Martinovich will also assist in the applicant review in a non-voting capacity.

The review process by the nominating committee will be subject to the state’s Open Meeting Law

Sandoval said he wanted the industry involved because otherwise it would be too much of a closed process if it was just the current director and governor’s office involved in picking the finalists.

“For me it’s important to have their input into the process,” he said. “So I’m trying to broaden it out. It is new. There is no doubt about this. But I appreciate the director’s comments about being open and transparent and having the opportunity to have as much input from the folks that are going to be dealing with the new director on a daily basis.”

The timeline is to accept applications for six weeks beginning April 9. The nominating committee will forward its selections to the board at its June 25 meeting. The candidates will be interviewed in a public meeting on July 23 at which time a new director will be selected.

Board member Frank Martin said having the construction industry involved in the selection is critical, “because they are a very integral part of what that department does every day.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, also a board member, asked that it be made clear that having the construction industry involved in the selection process will not create an issue for the new director when contracts are awarded.

There is no way any currying of favor could occur in the process of awarding contracts, she said.

Martinovich agreed, saying the contracts are low bid and they are scrutinized by many officials within the agency before being approved by the director, and if they are over $5 million, by the board.

“So I don’t see an issue with that,” she said.

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Audio clips:

Board member Tom Fransway says the director and governor’s office should pick the finalists:

040512Fransway :36 cabinet level position.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he asked that the construction industry be involved:

040512Sandoval :16 a daily basis.”

Board member Frank Martin says having the industry involved is critical:

040512Martin :12 does every day.”

 

Controversy Over State Use Of Outside Legal Counsel Expands To Robo-Signing Lawsuit

By Sean Whaley | 10:49 am February 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – When state Sen. Greg Brower asked the Attorney General’s office earlier this month about the $6 million in outside legal costs incurred so far in defending the state in a freeway construction dispute, he said his motives were purely fiscal in nature.

“We just don’t have money to waste,” said Brower, R-Reno. “At least this particular situation seems to suggest that maybe we are. Maybe there are good answers to all of these questions I raised in my letter but there is only one way to find out and that is to ask them.”

State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

But the use of outside counsel is being questioned in another case where Brower’s law firm, Snell & Wilmer, is representing a company being sued by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who is also using the services of a private law firm.

The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 16, 2011 in Clark County District Court against Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) alleging deceptive practices against Nevada consumers related to the default servicing of residential mortgages in Nevada, specifically loans in foreclosure.

“The robo-signing crisis in Nevada has been fueled by two main problems: Chaos and speed,” Masto said in announcing the filing of the lawsuit in December. “We will protect the integrity of the foreclosure process. This lawsuit is the next, logical step in holding the key players in the foreclosure fraud crisis accountable.”

Masto obtained approval from the state Board of Examiners and the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee in 2009 to hire the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll to investigate and prosecute mortgage lending cases, including the current case against LPS. The firm works on a contingency basis, not getting paid unless the firm obtains settlements or court judgments.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

In a statement in response to the lawsuit issued in December, LPS said the use of the Washington, DC law firm is apparently a violation of Nevada law.

“Unfortunately, the company’s efforts to engage in meaningful discussions with the Nevada Attorney General’s office have been frustrated by the Nevada Attorney General’s decision to outsource its investigation to Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, a plaintiff’s law firm located in Washington, DC in apparent violation of Nevada law,” the company said in a statement. “The complaint highlights misconceptions about LPS and seeks to sensationalize a variety of false allegations in a misleading manner.”

The firm on Tuesday filed a motion to dismiss the civil complaint.

In an interview Friday, Brower called the two legal matters “apples and oranges.”

Brower said the questions in his Jan. 12 letter to Masto asking about the use of the Washington, DC, firm of Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald to handle the case filed by Ames Construction against the Nevada Department of Transportation over construction of the first phase of the Carson City bypass are strictly related to the $6 million in legal costs incurred by the state in the matter, which remains unresolved. He also asked why the state hired an out-of-state firm, and whether the Attorney General’s office could have handled the matter itself.

Gov. Brian Sandoval also raised concerns about the legal costs at a January meeting of the Board of Directors of the Transportation Department. So did board member Tom Fransway.

In the LPS dispute, Brower said he arranged a meeting between the Attorney General’s office and the company last year to discuss the matters of concern before the lawsuit was filed, but Brower said he will not be representing LPS in the dispute going forward.

The state has frequently employed outside legal firms for various matters over the years, including the successful pursuit of a settlement agreement by Nevada and other states against the nation’s big tobacco companies in the 1990s. Since the settlement was reached in 1998 under then-Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa, Nevada has collected $505 million for a variety of programs through 2011.

The state Agency for Nuclear Projects has also employed the Washington, DC, law firm of Egan, Fitzpatrick, Malsch & Lawrence since 2001 to represent it in its ongoing dispute over construction of the nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain. The contract was also approved while Del Papa was attorney general and the late Kenny Guinn was governor. Payments through 2012, including expert witnesses, are expected to total $33.4 million, most of which is federal funds.

State Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said he also has questions about the legality of using Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll to sue on behalf of the state, and has asked Masto in a letter to respond to his concerns. He first raised questions at a meeting of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee in December.

The statute is clear that the Attorney General’s office has the authority to hire outside counsel to defend the state or in the case of a conflict of interest, he said.

“But to hire counsel to then go out and prosecute or go after other private entities doesn’t seem legal within our current statutory framework,” Kieckhefer said.

Kieckhefer said he also asked for more information on the use of a contingency fee for the contract.

“When you’re trying to execute justice, you’re suddenly putting a monetary incentive into the execution of justice, and that seems inherently problematic to me so I’ve asked for a little bit more information on that as well,” he said.

There is a difference in the two contracts. The firm representing NDOT is being paid an hourly rate. The state Transportation Board approved an additional payment amount to get the case to an arbitration hearing next month. The legal costs including the new amount will total $6 million.

The contract with Cohen, Milstein is a contingency agreement, meaning Nevada will not have to pay unless the firm is successful against LPS. The firm is eligible to receive up to 15 percent of any settlement.

In yet another wrinkle in the use of outside legal counsel, Brower’s firm was also employed by the Department of Transportation in a construction dispute similar to the one he has raised questions about. Snell & Wilmer was paid nearly $2.9 million to represent the agency in a dispute that was settled with the firm Parsons Brinckerhoff in Feb. 2011.

The litigation involved the design and construction of the Interstate 515/215 interchange in Henderson.

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Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower last week expressed concerns about the legal fees associated with an NDOT contract dispute:

020212Brower :31 to ask them.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer questions if the Attorney General has the legal authority hire a private law firm to sue a private business:

020212Kieckhefer1 :31 current statutory framework.”

Kieckhefer says he also has concerns with the use of contingency fees in such legal actions:

020212Kieckhefer2 :20 that as well.”

 

Gov. Brian Sandoval Questions $6 Million In Legal Fees To Defend Against Freeway Construction Lawsuit

By Sean Whaley | 11:06 am January 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A legal firm retained by the state Department of Transportation to defend against a contractor dispute over construction of a section of the Carson City bypass has racked up $6 million in fees so far and the costs could still go higher.

Gov. Brian Sandoval today expressed concern about the amount of legal fees in the case involving a $40 million claim by Utah-based Ames Construction, which built the first phase of the U.S. 395 bypass in the capital that opened in February of 2006.

The cost of the 4.5-mile stretch of freeway was $70 million.

Carson City byass. / Photo courtesy of NDOT.

Sandoval, participating in a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Department of Transportation, said he had not seen such costs for a legal challenge before. The fees have been paid since 2008.

“Because even at those rates, $6 million, I haven’t seen that before,” Sandoval said. “I mean this just gets us to the mediation, as you say, and then we don’t know what the outcome of the mediation is going to be after that.”

Sandoval said the legal costs involved in the dispute point out why it is so important for the agency to deal with such disputes at the earliest possible date to try to head off escalating costs. Earlier in the meeting NDOT Director Susan Martinovich reported on efforts by the agency to resolve disputes as early in the process as possible.

Tom Fransway, a member of the board representing the public, asked whether in the future there is a way to seek competitive proposals for legal work rather than use the no-bid process for such services.

“I agree with the governor 100 percent that those fees are pretty extravagant,” he said. “And I’m wondering if in the future we have the ability to retain legal counsel for a fee that is more responsible.”

The hourly rates charged by the legal firm’s attorneys are as high as $340 an hour for the senior partner, but members of the board were told the rates are not excessive and have not increased since the dispute first began.

“That’s not an unreasonable fee,” said Attorney General and board member Catherine Cortez Masto.

Despite the concerns, the board approved an updated contract with the legal firm of Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald to take the case to mediation in February. The firm is based in Washington, DC, but has an office in Las Vegas.

Dennis Gallagher, NDOT’s chief legal counsel with the attorney general’s office, said the legal fees also cover the experts hired to defend the state. He said the case is extremely complex and that Ames has not backed down from its $40 million claim.

“The state vigorously disputes this claim; has been defending it in court since 2008; we finally got it to a point where it will go to mediation the end of February and this latest amendment is to bring the fees current through the mediation,” Gallagher said.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he has not seen such high legal fees before:

010912Sandoval :27 be after that.”

Board member Tom Fransway asks if there is a way to negotiate lower fees in future cases:

010912Fransway :26 is more responsible.”

NDOT legal counsel Dennis Gallagher says the fees include expert witnesses:

010912Gallagher :22 through the mediation.”

 

Nevada Securities Division Issues Cease and Desist to Wyoming Company

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:26 pm September 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY — The Secretary of State’s Securities Division has issued a cease and desist order to a Wyoming company doing business in Nevada to stop selling shell corporations registered with his office because it is a securities violation.

Secretary of State Ross Miller says the sale of Nevada corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) includes the sale of stocks or shares, and is therefore regulated by Nevada’s securities statutes and regulations.

“The sale of securities by an unlicensed broker or dealer is a clear violation of our securities statues,” said Miller in a Friday press release. “Every corporation has stock or shares representing ownership, so in order to sell the corporation you have to sell the stock or shares. It’s not illegal to do that, but it is illegal to do so without a license.”

Miller said his office will continue to investigate other possible criminal violations related to this type of activity.

The Chief Administrator of the Securities Division, Carolyn Ellsworth, says the Division will also be investigating possible fraudulent and misleading claims regarding the value of the shell companies in this case as well as future investigations.

“Many times when these corporations or LLC’s are sold, the buyer is told that simply because the entity was formed and registered a few years ago, it has more value because it’s an ‘aged’ corporation,” said Ellsworth. “Buyers are sometimes told that the aged nature of the entity makes it more valuable for things like getting a line of credit, or just general credibility. It does not, and so that’s a serious misrepresentation.”

The issuance of the Cease and Desist Order is part of an ongoing effort to address abuses of the Nevada commercial filing statutes and regulations.

In addition, corporate entities registered in Nevada and the formation agents and registered agents representing those entities will be the focus of the new Corporate Ownership Fraud Task Force that was announced this week by Miller.

The Task Force will investigate registered Nevada business entities that are suspected of being involved in illegal activities including tax evasion, money laundering, securities violations, and the marketing of shell or shelf companies for fraudulent and/or deceptive purposes.

Miller has appointed former criminal prosecutor Tera Ames as his Special Liaison to the Task Force which will also include Special Agent in Charge Paul Camacho from the Internal Revenue Service, and John P. Kelleher, Chief Deputy Attorney General of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Justice Fraud Division.

The Task Force will use shared resources and information to target possible criminal activity.

“We have a unique law in Nevada which allows us to demand a list of beneficial owners of any entity registered in Nevada that is suspected of illegal activities,” said Miller. “We plan to use that law aggressively, which is why I’ve brought in a criminal prosecutor to be my liaison to the Task Force.”

Miller said that although the problem is not rampant, there are cases of individuals and entities falsely promoting Nevada as a safe haven for criminal activity.

The IRS recently took aggressive action against individuals involved in asset protection schemes in Nevada. In July, William S. Reed, Richard Neiswonger, and Wendell Waite were indicted on federal charges of defrauding the U.S. Government, mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

Additionally, criminal fraud relating to disguised corporate ownership has long been a focus of the IRS and was once again named as one of the IRS’ 2011 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.

In these schemes, corporations and other entities are formed and operated for the purpose of disguising the ownership of the business or financial activity by means such as improperly using a third party to request an employer identification number. Such entities can be used to facilitate underreporting of income, fictitious deductions, non-filing of tax returns, participating in listed transactions, money laundering, financial crimes and even terrorist financing.

The Task Force’s investigations will be backed by an aggressive prosecutorial effort by the Nevada Attorney General, according to press release this week.

In Case You Missed It: The Week in Nevada Politics

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:24 pm September 9th, 2011

These “ICYMI” posts are getting quite a few hits so I guess you like them, Dear Readers. Here’s this week’s round-up (plus a few from before the holiday weekend):

Presidential Race

My three cents on the President’s speech Thursday night.

Magellan’s 9/2 survey had Gov. Rick Perry up over Gov. Mitt Romney by 5 points (29-24 percent) in Nevada. Herman Cain, Rep. Bachman and Rep. Paul all came in at 6 or 7 percent.

Romney rolled out his economic and jobs plans in North Las Vegas this week. Can a visit from Perry be far behind?

Special Election in CD-2 (September 13)

State Senator Mark Amodei’s says he’d be “honored” to have your vote in his final television ad of the campaign.

State Treasurer Kate Marshall has been walking a tightrope as she runs as a Democrat in a conservative district, but Steny Hoyer’s visit cleared things up a bit.

The two underdog candidates fight on.

Reuters reports.

U.S. Senate Race

Rep. Berkley did not heart this story in the New York Times. The Las Vegas Sun sees nothing wrong. Steve Sebelius says she should have abstained. Jon Ralston says either way, it spells trouble for her campaign.

Dean Heller AGAIN demanded transparency from the so-called debt-cutting SuperCommittee via his fourth press release on the issue.

Congressional Delegation (and Hopefuls) in the News

Rep. Joe Heck gets heckled at a panel on job creation.

Does Sen. Harry Reid always get what he wants? Maybe not, but he can still do stuff like this.

The Washington Post fact checks a Reid job claim related to the FAA bill.

Dina Titus is not letting the lack of district lines stop her from putting together a great money team for her congressional run…somewhere.

Cities and Counties

A Clark County union negotiating expert says the SEUI is bargaining in bad faith. The county wants the Local Government Employee Management Relations Board to compel the union to meet more often and bargain in good faith. The SIEU responded calling the claim “disingenuous” and the complaint “frivolous.”

The Clean Water Coalition is shutting down but at least someone in the state has some money.

As first reported by me on Twitter, some folks in North Las Vegas are going to try to recall Mayor Shari Buck. But only 50 signatures were collected Tuesday at their kick-off rally.

Miscellaneous

Is the Nevada GOP finally getting its organizational act together such that it can inflict pain on the Democrats in 2012? The dean of Nevada politics says maybe.

The Nevada Supreme Court opened its fall term with a hearing on a freedom of speech argument by a political advocacy group.

A complaint against Bank of America was filed recently by Attorney General Catherine  Cortez Masto. She and many state AGs also signed a strongly worded letter of concern/complaint (and asks questions “in lieu of a subpoena”) against an alleged sex trafficking website.

Ralston blasts the state teachers’ union for its “report card” on lawmakers.

DOT is contemplating an Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Act (RRIF) loan of $6 billion to the DesertXpress project.

 

Florida Judge Rules Health Care Law Unconstitutional

By Andrew Doughman | 4:01 pm January 31st, 2011

A Florida judge ruled today that a key provision of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, a Ronald Reagan appointee serving in Pensacola, Fla., ruled in favor of the 26 states that argued the law’s provision that imposes penalties on people who don’t purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.

In a 78-page ruling, Vinson said that the law will remain in effect so long as the appeals process continues. He did, however, rule that the whole act would be declared void if appellate courts uphold his decision.

“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void,” Vinson writes.

He ruled that the “individual mandate” requiring individuals to purchase health insurance oversteps the regulatory authority of Congress through the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The requirement does not take effect until 2014. Other implementation deadlines come sooner.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has said before that portions of the law were “unconstitutional.” He supports the lawsuit to which Nevada is a party.

Time is of the essence in settling this issue because we are being forced to implement portions of this law,” he said in reaction to the Florida ruling.

Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services is already implementing the first phases of the law, which include setting up a statewide health insurance exchange.

Mike Willden, the department’s director, has said that the state will continue implementation so long as the law is upheld.

Supporters of the law have held that the controversial “individual mandate” requirement of the law is important for other important elements to take effect, including the provision that bars insurance companies from denying a person coverage for preexisting conditions. Unless everyone has insurance, the idea of spreading risk among the populace may not work.

Nevada had joined the lawsuit under former Gov. Jim Gibbons via attorney Mark Hutchinson after the state’s Democratic attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto declined to pursue legal action.

Before the challenge reaches the Supreme Court, Congress may change the act. Sen. Harry Reid already wants to remove a section that he said imposes burdensome reporting requirements on small businesses.

Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say on the constitutionality of this bill.  As I have stated before, the President should work with Congress to find real solutions to healthcare reform instead of allowing a protracted court battle,” said Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nevada.

Newly-elected Republican Congressman Joe Heck has also recently said he’d like major overhauls to what he called the “job-killing” law.

Today’s ruling comes after U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled in a Virginia case that some parts of the act were unconstitutional. Previously, two other judges had thrown such challenges out.

The Obama administration appealed the Virginia ruling and is expected to appeal today’s ruling. The Florida case may now move to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Some expect the case will eventually be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling further illustrates the party-line split when it comes to the constitutionality of the Obama law.

Nearly all 26 of the attorneys general and governors involved in the lawsuit are Republicans. Judges appointed by Democrats have upheld the law’s constitutionality whereas Republican appointees have ruled it unconstitutional.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki Will Seek Reelection in 2010, Continues to Question Failed Prosecution by Attorney General

By Sean Whaley | 1:47 pm December 16th, 2009
CARSON CITY – Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, cleared earlier this month on charges that he mismanaged a college savings program while serving as state treasurer, said today he plans to run for reelection as lieutenant governor next year.

“It is absolutely my intention to run for reelection as lieutenant governor,” he said.

Krolicki announced his intentions during an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

During the interview, Krolicki said he will continue to press for an explanation from Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto on why she sought to prosecute him criminally in a case that he said never should have been pursued to begin with.

Krolicki said defending himself against what he called politically motivated charges over the past year has cost him “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Masto spokeswoman Edie Cartwright said she did not see the program and did not anticipate that there would be any comment from the attorney general’s office.

Krolicki was accused of violating the state budget act by misusing $6 million of a $3 billion college savings plan, but this issue was not even mentioned in the indictment, according to a ruling dismissing the four felony counts against him issued by a Clark County District Court judge earlier this month.

Masto then announced she would not appeal the ruling or seek a new indictment even though she believes Krolicki was guilty of criminal wrongdoing, citing limited resources in her office.

In the interview, Krolicki said the attorney general’s office was responsible for reviewing and approving the contracts that specified how the college savings funds were to be used. The attorney general also sits on the Board of Examiners and voted to approve the contracts, he said.

“We heeded their advice from the very beginning,” Krolicki said. “For the attorney general to turn around after negotiating and approving these contracts and say, ‘Oh, I don’t like that’ – how does a lawyer prosecute their own client for heeding their advice? That’s the one thing that I will never understand in all of this.”

Krolicki said that is why the case was dismissed for the first time earlier this year – because the attorney general‘s office was determined by a judge to be an “aider and abettor” in the way the funds were used as specified in the legal contracts.

The lesson should have been learned then and the case should not have been pursued at that time, he said.

Krolicki said Masto is more fortunate than he is with the ruling by the judge to dismiss the charges.

The facts that would have come out at trial would have, “embarrassed her so greatly that I think she got a great Christmas present, too, because now some of these just incredibly damaging things to the prosecution will not be known fully,” he said.

Krolicki said three of the top 10 college savings programs nationwide are in Nevada. They were created without taxpayer dollars and are helping over half a million families pay for college.

“We made a profit doing it, and it was balanced to the penny,” he said. “I’m proud of that. I don’t know what else to say.”