Posts Tagged ‘Ensign’

Let’s Get Linky

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:49 pm September 23rd, 2011

Bored with my usual “In Case You Missed It” headline, so I’m mixing it up today, Dear Readers. Livin’ on the edge, that’s me. Here’s some stuff you may have missed this week in your mad rush to live your life:

Presidential/Electoral Stuff

What do Florida and Nevada have in common, besides being all sunshine-y? They are both toss-up states with high unemployment rates, which puts them in play in 2012 presidential politics. Michigan (blue) and North Carolina (red) are leaners rather than toss-ups, but that Motor City jobless rate might be a problem for Obama as well. (H/T Ralston)

Rick Santorum admits to helping out a fellow Senator and tipping off John Ensign way back when. (Doug Hampton said as much when he appeared on Face to Face.)


Here’s the state GOP complaint/request filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics Tuesday for an investigation into Rep. Berkley’s legislative actions related to her husband’s medical practice and related matters. Ralston put together a fun timeline showing what happened next.

Sen. Dean Heller gave his first speech. Quite the populist these days. Those of running for U.S. Senate and trying to appeal to independents, I mean.

I wonder if Heller called these guys copycats? He’s been pushing for transparency of that supercommittee with near-daily press releases since it was formed.


Speaking of copycats, someone at R&R pointed me to a Joe Trippi “Echo” ad in the California governor’s race after I Tweeted something about this Amodei ad tying Kate Marshall to various Dems.

You know its official when the door sign goes up.


Sandoval is having a couple of little fundraisers. And Secretary of State Ross J. Miller says he’s looking at the AG’s (not the governor’s) office in 2014.

Sandoval is not running for vice president. Really, Dear Readers, he’s not.

T-shirts for cheap. (Poor Jim Gibbons.)


Redistricting continues.

Random Stuff

Personal income growth in the states is (you guessed it) down. Nevada is in the lowest fifth.

Someone is encouraging people to move to Nevada, but not for the reasons you might think.

Here’s the Retail Association of Nevada poll if you want to read the whole thing.

We might get the winter Olympics. In 2022. If the world has not ended by then.

I didn’t know there was such a thing as the Chinese Miss Cosmos pageant. There is. And it’s coming to Reno.




Gov. Sandoval Says Premature To Speculate On U.S. Senate Appointment, Democrats Want Open Selection Process

By Sean Whaley | 2:23 pm April 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – As Gov. Brian Sandoval today said it is premature to speculate on who he will appoint to replace GOP U.S. Senator John Ensign, Democrats in the Nevada Legislature said they will seek a resolution urging a “fair, open, and transparent process for appointing a temporary replacement.”

Ensign announced yesterday he is resigning from the Senate. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who announced earlier he would run for Ensign’s seat in 2012, is viewed by political observers as the favorite to win the appointment. If Heller is appointed, he could run as the incumbent in 2012.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., has announced her intent to seek the Senate seat in 2012 as well.

Ensign, who had previously announced he would not seek re-election, surprised a lot of people in Nevada with his decision to resign effective May 3. The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating Ensign over events related to his affair with a former aide.

The news of Ensign’s resignation was first reported by Nevada political commentator Jon Ralston via Twitter.

In response to a flurry of speculation about his replacement, Sandoval today released a statement about the selection process.

“Under Nevada law, the governor has the authority to make an appointment of some qualified person to fill the vacancy, who shall hold office until the next general election,” Sandoval said. “Under Nevada law, there is no established time frame for making such an appointment. In Nevada’s history, only eight U.S. Senators have been appointed, most recently Paul Laxalt on December 18, 1974.

“Pursuant to the relevant law I expect to announce an appointment before the resignation effective date of May 3,” he said. “I take very seriously the importance of this appointment, so to speculate on potential candidates for appointment before then would be premature.”

Nevada Legislative Democrats also weighed in on the appointment process today, saying they will pursue a resolution asking for a public review of potential appointees, “in response to reports of potential deal making.”

The resolution will call for the governor to release a public time-line, including a window for those interested to apply, as well as a time frame for the public to review qualified applicants prior to the governor’s decision on the vacancy. The U.S. Senate seat must be filled in a timely manner, but a public process for doing so will not inhibit that imperative and will allow for a more informed, deliberative decision, Democrats said in a news release.

“The Senate does not belong to any particular party; it belongs to the people of Nevada,” said Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas. “This decision is too important not to be done in the light of day.”

Democrat lawmakers noted that when state Senator Bill Raggio resigned in mid-term in January, the Washoe County Commission, which was charged with making the temporary replacement, conducted public and transparent hearings and required all qualified applicants to apply.

“If the public deserved an open and transparent process to replace a state Senator, then certainly they deserve no less when appointing a U.S. Senator,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “This is a time to put people before politics and do this right.”

If Heller is appointed, it will create further political ripples in Nevada. Heller’s appointment to the Senate would leave a vacancy in his District 2 House seat, requiring a special election. A number of Republicans, including former U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, and current state Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, have expressed an interest in seeking the seat. Democrats are likely to seek the seat as well.

List of appointed U.S. Senators from Nevada:

1912: First appointed Senator was W.A. Massey (R) who was appointed on July 1, 1912, to succeed George Nixon (R) who died on June 5, 1912.

1918: Charles Henderson (D) appointed on January 12, 1918, to replace Francis Newlands (D) who died on December 24, 1917.

1940: Key Pittman (D) died November 10, 1940, 5 days after being re-elected. Berkeley Bunker (D) appointed on November 26 to full the Senate seat until the next general election.”

1942: James Scrugham (D) defeated Bunker in the primary. Bunker resigned December 6 to provide Senatorial seniority.

1945: Edward Carville (D) appointed on July 24, 1945, to replace Scrugham who died on June 23, 1945.

1954: Patrick McCarran (D) died while campaigning on September 28, 1954. Ernest Brown (R) appointed on October 1, 1954, to succeed McCarran. Lost general election to Alan Bible (D) and subsequently resigned on December 1 to give Bible seniority. Bible appointed on December 2, 1954.

1974: Alan Bible resigned on December 17, 1974, to give newly-elected Paul Laxalt (R) seniority. Laxalt appointed December 18, 1974.

Berkley Remains Noncommittal On 2012 Senate Bid

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 7:41 pm February 15th, 2011

Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley declined again today to commit to a race for the U.S. Senate in 2012 after poll results show Rep. Dean Heller with a commanding lead over incumbent John Ensign in a GOP primary.

Berkley, D-Nev., interviewed by Jon Ralston on his Face to Face television program, said the poll results from January commissioned by Heller showing him with a 15 point lead over Ensign should be no surprise to anyone.

Ensign has been suffering fallout from revelations of his sexual indiscretions with Cindy Hampton, the wife of his best friend and former senior staffer. The Senate Ethics Committee continues to investigate whether Ensign violated the law in attempting to resolve the matter.

“John Ensign knows he is in trouble,” she said. “He is trying to rehabilitate himself with the people of the state of Nevada, his constituents. And I don’t think this poll is a surprise to John.”

Berkley said if she decides to run for the Senate seat, she will not get to select her opponent.

“I think I will let the Republican voters in our state decide who their candidate is going to be,” she said.

The poll of 600 likely Republican primary voters showed Heller with 53 percent to 38 percent for Ensign.

Heller has indicated he is considering a run for Ensign’s seat.

Nevada Sen. John Ensign Defends Requests For Stimulus Money He Opposed

By Sean Whaley | 3:31 pm October 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., is defending his decision to seek stimulus money on behalf of constituents and Nevada government entities despite voting against the massive funding measure in February 2009.

The response came after documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity showed several instances where Ensign wrote letters in support of stimulus grant requests despite voting against the $787 billion funding bill.

Jennifer Cooper, press secretary to Ensign, said: “Nevada is at a great disadvantage when it comes to federal funds returning to our state. The stimulus bill passed, and Senator Ensign voted against it because it wasn’t the right way to repair our economy.

“That said, there is a pot of money that has been allocated to states to fund programs, and Senator Ensign fights to get Nevada its fair share,” Cooper said. “He advocated on behalf of these entities, at their request, for federal grants that would have otherwise gone to states that already receive the bulk of these funds.”

The Center for Public Integrity published an article identifying “scores” of Republicans and conservative Democrats who voted against the act and subsequently sent letters supporting requests for funds by private companies and public entities. The letters were sent to the Transportation, Energy and Commerce departments.

The article, titled “Stimulating Hypocrisy: Scores of Recovery Act Opponents Sought Money Out of Public View,” includes links to letters written by members of Congress.

Some have criticized the practice, including Rob Gaudet, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, who told the Center for Public Integrity: “The GOP should not be taking this money and spending it regardless of where it came from. They should be fighting against it with every fiber of their elected beings.”

Ensign called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a “so-called” stimulus measure when he voted against it.

At the time of his vote, Ensign said in a press release: “Today’s vote is more of the same in Washington – spend, spend, spend. Government has a role to play, but the American people deserve a better effort than this. For Nevada, when you peel back a few layers, this bill is not as beneficial as it first looks, and it will ultimately increase taxes.”

But soon after, he was writing letters seeking those same funds on behalf of constituents.

In a letter dated June 15, 2009, Ensign wrote to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in support of a grant application by Altair Nanotechnologies for stimulus funding for its battery technology.

Ensign said the company’s proposal to expand battery production in Reno and Anderson, Indiana, would “directly and indirectly create or save over 330 jobs in locations which have unemployment rates considerably higher than the national average. In these difficult economic times, growing jobs in the United States is vital.”

In a later dated Sept. 10, 2009, Ensign wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood in support of an application by the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada seeking stimulus funds for a rapid transit line.

“The ability to move the community’s two million residents and nearly 40 million visitors is critical to the economic health of the region and the state,” he said.

Ensign also sent letters this past summer in support of applications by the Nevada Hospital Association and the Lyon County School District seeking stimulus funding for broadband technology.

Documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity also includes correspondence from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.,  in support of several stimulus funding grant requests for public broadband projects. Reps. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., wrote letters in support of broadband projects as well.

All three representatives voted for the stimulus bill.

There were no letters from Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who also opposed the stimulus bill.

Former GOP Senate Candidate Chachas Says He May Run For Ensign Senate Seat In 2012

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 7:49 pm September 20th, 2010

Former Republican Senate candidate John Chachas said today he is now residing in Nevada and that he “may run” for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., in 2012.

“I may run,” he said in an interview with Jon Ralston on the Face To Face television program.

Chachas, a Wall Street investment banker originally from Ely, was one of several Republicans running in the crowded primary earlier this year for the right to challenge incumbent Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Sharron Angle won the primary and Chachas said he will vote for Angle on Nov. 2.

Chachas said he is concerned that some Nevada voters might opt for “none of the above” when voting in the race between Reid and Angle. He said a vote for none of these candidates, an option available to Nevada voters in statewide races, is a vote for Harry Reid.

Chachas said he believes Angle can defeat Reid, but that turnout is the key.

“A vote for none of the above or a vote for some other third party candidate is a vote for status quoism, for basically returning Senate Majority Leader Reid back to his post,” Chachas said. “And I think if you look at what is happening in this state, and look at what has happened for the last three or four years while he has been on watch, I want change.”

If too many voters, “out of disgust” opt for none of the above on the ballot then Reid will benefit, Chachas said.

Audio clips:

John Chachas tells Jon Ralston he might run for Ensign’s seat in 2012:

092010Chachas1 :07 it here first.”

Chachas says a vote for none of the above in the Senate race on Nov. 2 is a vote for Reid:

092010Chachas2 :19 I want change.”

Nevada Business Leaders Say Legislation Pending In Congress Will Kill Jobs

By Sean Whaley | 6:45 pm September 2nd, 2010

RENO – Several Nevada business leaders took the opportunity of the upcoming Labor Day holiday to speak out today against federal legislation they say will kill jobs in Nevada at a time when the unemployed total more than 20 percent.

The Alliance to Protect Nevada Jobs held a “reverse” job fair to convey concerns that if Congress passes the Employee Free Choice Act now pending in the Senate, the country could lose 600,000 jobs within a year of its passage.

Opponents of the measure, which has passed the House of Representatives, say it would eliminate an existing federal requirement that workers be allowed to vote in secret on any unionization proposal. It would also require disputes between unions and employers to be subjected to binding arbitration.

“With 200,000 people looking for work here in Nevada today, the notion of this legislation even being considered is just ridiculous,” said McKay Daniels, speaking on behalf of the alliance.

He said the measure should be called the Employee “Forced Choice” Act and will result in forced unionization of workers in Nevada and across the country.

A Nevada labor leader said in response that the legislation will not eliminate jobs, but would give workers the right to decide how to form a union.

Daniels was joined by Clara Andriola, president of the Nevada Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association, Randi Thompson, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and Tray Abney, director of government relations with the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, in speaking out against the legislation and other potentially job-killing proposals now being considered in Washington and in Nevada.

Andriola said: “Forced unionization isn’t going to help turn our economy around. Adding burdens, expenses and red tape onto Nevada’s job producers is the fastest way to destroy jobs, not create them.”

McKay Daniels speaks for the Alliance to Protect Nevada Jobs with a giant "pink slip".

Abney said the reason employers are not investing in jobs in Nevada is because of the high level of uncertainty about the potential for new taxes.

“There is a reason people aren’t investing in Nevada and that’s because of the words of our elected officials, both in Washington and in Carson City,” he said.

Bacon said Nevada employers are already facing the likelihood of big increases in unemployment tax rates next year.

“These increased costs by themselves could force many companies out of business or overseas,” he said. “To even talk about adding additional expenses or regulations onto struggling businesses during a time like this is just insanity.”

But Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, said the act will not eliminate jobs. It would give workers some rights, he said.

“All it does is give the employees the right to chose how they want to form a union,” Thompson said. “The system right now that we have in place with the National Labor Relations Act does not work. It is fraught with delay.”

The act does not eliminate the secret ballot, but would allow employees to use alternatives such as sign-up cards if that is their preference, he said.

U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., opposes the legislation while Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., supports the measure.

In a statement Ensign said: “The right for workers to vote by secret ballot in union elections is a fundamental part of our democratic tradition. The big union push for card check not only leaves employees open to union intimidation but also harms the ability of American businesses to create jobs. The unfortunate reality behind card check is that it actually has little to do with protecting workers. Instead, this disastrous policy would only lead to more job losses and greater burdens on small businesses and would do little to help jump start Nevada’s struggling economy.”


Audio clips:

McKay Daniels representing the Alliance to Protect Nevada Jobs says pending federal legislation regarding unionization efforts will kill jobs:

090210Daniels :22 is just ridiculous.”

Tray Abney of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce says uncertainty over taxes stifling job growth:

090210Abney :18 and Carson City.”

Union leader Danny Thompson says the Employee Free Choice Act will not eliminate jobs:

090210Thompson :11 form a union.”

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley Supports Ground Zero Mosque Construction, Says May Run for Senate In 2012

By Sean Whaley | 10:05 am August 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley Thursday defended the right of mosque supporters to build their facility near Ground Zero in New York City, saying she supports religious freedom for all.

“I am supporting the Constitution when it comes to this issue,” Berkley, D-Nev., said. “As long as the zoning is appropriate and as long as the funding mechanism is appropriate; this mosque is being built on private property two blocks away from Ground Zero and I do not think the government ought to be involved in this decision-making process.”

Berkley said she respects the views and concerns of those who were victimized by the 9-11 attacks and who believe the mosque location is inappropriate.

“But what we’re talking about here is Constitutional protections afforded all Americans,” she said.

Berkley, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, also said she is “thinking about” running for U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s seat in 2012 but is focused now on her re-election to District 1 in Southern Nevada. Once the current campaign is over, Berkley said she will give the race more thought.

Asked if she would run if Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV, was the GOP opponent, Berkley said her decision would not be based on who was in the race from the opposition party. The race is likely to draw a number of candidates from both parties, she said.

“Senate seats don’t come up very often, and I suspect there will be a very robust campaign and primary on the Republican side and possibly on the Democratic side as well,” Berkley said.

Ensign is exploring the possibility of running for another term even though he has suffered significant political fallout after admitting in 2009 to an affair with a former staff member. An ethics investigation into how he handled the situation is under way.

Asked about the likelihood of Congress taking up immigration reform, Berkley said the issue needs to be addressed now.

“We should have addressed the immigration issue in this country 20 years ago,” she said. “It is getting worse by the day and if we continue to kick this can down the road it is not getting any better. Congress has got to step up to the plate and do our job.”

Berkley said comprehensive reforms should not include amnesty, but should find a way to address how to deal with the 12 million people residing illegally in the U.S.

In Congress fails to act, the country will see 50 different laws dealing with illegal immigration as states respond to the vacuum created without national reforms, she said. But Berkley said there are adequate laws on the books to deal with border security and illegal immigration. They just need to be enforced, she said.


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says she supports mosque construction on religious freedom grounds:

081910Berkley1 :23 this decision-making process.”

Berkley says she is thinking about a run for Senate in 2012:

081910Berkley2 :24 side as well.”

Berkley says Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform:

081910Berkley3 :30 are here illegally.”

More Calls for Ensign’s Resignation Trickle In

By Sean Whaley | 8:08 am April 11th, 2010

(Updated at 10:02 a.m. and again at 10:41 a.m. on April 11, 2010)

CARSON CITY – Despite being described as a “wounded” senator who has not been effective in representing Nevada in Washington, DC, state Republican officials and candidates surveyed by the Nevada News Bureau for the most part are still not calling on U.S. Senator John Ensign, R-Nev., to step down.

Ensign, under the cloud of an ethics investigation over whether he provided inappropriate and possibly illegal help to former administrative assistant Doug Hampton, was called upon to resign earlier this week by two former Clark County GOP officials. Ensign last year acknowledged having an affair with Hampton’s wife.

Among the few Republicans willing to call for Ensign’s resignation was Michael Roberson, candidate for Senate District 5.

“As a taxpayer and constituent, I have heard and read enough to join other Nevadans in calling for Senator Ensign to resign,” said Roberson. “His behavior shows a callous disregard for moral decency, the dignity of his office and for those of us who elected him.”

“I realize that some suggest that we should wait for the Senate Ethics Committee and U.S. Department of Justice investigations to conclude before making such a determination. However, through his own admitted actions, I do not believe Senator Ensign is worthy of the job he currently holds, and that he is in fact letting Nevadans down by continuing to fight for his job,” he said.

Roberson said that whether Senator Ensign is indicted or cleared is a legal matter and not his top concern.

“As an attorney and a member of the Nevada Bar, I certainly respect our legal system, and I believe Senator Ensign does deserve a full, fair and complete investigation,” he said. “However, the behavior he has shown and the decisions he has made make him an unsuitable representative for our state.”

“Our congressional delegation is weakened by this scandal – and therefore, so is our representation in Congress. Nevada taxpayers  deserve better. It is time for Senator Ensign to resign and allow a more suitable and effective Senator to replace him,” he said.

Ira Hansen, a Sparks resident running for Assembly District 32, also said he thinks Ensign should step down.

“I’ve been a big Ensign supporter from Day One,” he said. “I still think very highly of the guy. But I am extremely disappointed in his unfortunate personal behavior.”

“While it is true that Ensign is innocent until proven guilty,” Hansen said, “his violation of his family values positions by having an extramarital affair does justify asking him to step down.”

“Whether his resignation would be in the best interests of the state is a much bigger question,” he said. “It’s a tough call.”

Elizabeth Halseth, candidate for Senate District 9, also agrees it is time for Ensign to go.

“If you cannot lead effectively, there is limit to your success and the success of those you serve,” said Halseth.  “While I applaud Senator Ensign for the great things he has done for our state, I believe he has become ineffective and will ultimately harm our ability to grow.”

Halseth said she believes we need strong elected officials officials who can help Nevada get back on track.

“The people are our strength, and the people have lost faith in Senator Ensign’s ability to lead effectively,” said Halseth.  “For that reason, I believe it’s in the best interest of the people, the party and the state of Nevada that Senator Ensign resigns immediately.”

Calinit Atia, candidate for state Assembly District 22, said she believes elected officials must always put their constituents first and that it may be time for Ensign to consider stepping aside.

“I don’t know if what Dean Heller said is true, but if John Ensign has lost his effectiveness, then yes, I would say he should put the state’s interests before his own and step down,” said Atia.

“These are dark days for John Ensign and his family and the choices he needs to make are not easy, but they are choices that must be made,” she said.  “My heart goes out to his family.”

George Harris, a former chairman and former treasurer of the Clark County Republican party, re-iterated past statements calling for Ensign’s resignation.

“If Ensign continues to be a wasp in the GOP ointment, he will ultimately damage the prospects of those who come out of the primary election,” Harris said.  “The opposition will absolutely use this ethics scandal against all Republicans in the general election.”

“Ensign could save everyone a lot of embarrassment,” Harris said.  “The problem is, he has become the story.  The media and the Democrats are basically turning him into a clown, the longer this drags on and the more facts come to light.”

“From a strategic perspective, as the former head of the Republican Senatorial Committee, Ensign knows that if this was anyone else, he would be the first in line to tell them to resign,” said Harris. “We cannot have this kind of thing hanging over the party. Ensign should discontinue his selfish behavior and resign now.”

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., agreed in television interviews this week that Ensign is a “wounded” junior senator and that Nevada needs a stronger voice in Washington. But he stopped short of calling for Ensign to resign.

In a written statement to the Las Vegas Review Journal, U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian said, “After consideration of the news reports and Congressman Heller’s recent statements — which I take very seriously — I think the issue is that the people of Nevada need to know that Senator Ensign can represent them effectively.”

“I must respectfully say that as the potential Republican nominee, I do not expect to be campaigning with Senator Ensign this fall,” said Tarkanian.

Interviews with a number of other Nevada Republicans do reveal a general reluctance to call for Ensign’s resignation.  The general consensus is that Ensign has not yet been found guilty of any wrongdoing and that he will make the right decision for Nevada when the time comes.

Still, there is acknowledgment that Ensign’s troubles are creating problems for the Republican Party in Nevada because he can’t raise money for candidates or campaign on their behalf.

U.S. Senate John Chachas said, “Senator Ensign has suffered a great deal of personal and professional grief for some self-acknowledged lapses in judgment and behavior. Nevadans should not make sport of tap-dancing on someone’s misery.

“That said, elected officials need to be held to a higher standard. They have to be,” he added.  “I have served on boards of directors in business, and if a senior director had such issues, I would give him or her a nudge and suggest that moving on would be good for the company and shareholders.”

“But this is politics. The only ‘board’ is the electorate every six years. So in the interim, the only thing that matters is the good judgment of the individual,” said Chachas.  “I am confident Sen. Ensign will exercise good judgment for Nevada. His career and reputation are not the issue. The issue is Nevada, and I am confident he will do the right thing in that regard.”

Mike Montandon, gubernatorial candidate and the former mayor of North Las Vegas, said Ensign appears to be a liability for Republican candidates because they are clearly not seeking his endorsement.

But the issue of his resignation is a decision only Ensign can make, he said.

“I’m not going to call for anyone’s resignation,” Montandon said. “If someone in public office can’t make that decision for himself, then something is wrong.”

Montandon also noted that an Ensign resignation, should it occur, raises myriad political issues that could ripple across the state. Whether it would be better before or after the primary and how it might affect the re-election chances of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are just two of those issues, he said.

State Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said Ensign’s troubles are damaging to the GOP brand, but he added that the inquiries into his actions are still in progress.

“In America we have a system where you are innocent until proven guilty,” he said. “So in the absence of any clear criminal wrongdoing, it would presumptuous of me to be the judge, jury and executioner.”

Democrats are using Ensign’s troubles to their advantage, but ethics issues aren’t unknown to Democrats, Goedhart said. He pointed to New York Rep. Charles Rangel, who is facing an ethics probe of his own.

“Is it reducing Ensign’s effectiveness? Yes,” he said. “Am I calling on him to step down? No. Not unless he has been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing.”

Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, a candidate for state Senate, said he believes Ensign will do what is best for the state.

“He has not been charged or convicted, so it is very premature for people to be calling his resignation,” he said.

Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, who is also running for an open state senate seat, said he has stayed out of the controversy but said a resignation could, “throw a monkey wrench into the elections.”

A resignation now would be poor timing, he said.

“We should wait and see what the investigations turn up,” Gustavson said. “Let it take its course. Until then I’m not suggesting we do anything different.”

U.S. Senate candidate Garn Mabey, a former member of the state Assembly, said he would agree with the description of Ensign as a “wounded” senator. But Mabey said he considers Ensign a friend who helped him win his first race for elective office.

“I’m not going to throw him under the bus,” he said.

Mabey said he does not believe Ensign’s troubles will affect other Nevada Republican candidates.

“I think he is a good man,” Mabey said. “It is a decision he has to make.”

U.S. Senate candidate and Assemblyman Chad Christensen said: “This has been an unfortunate situation all the way around. There are two basic issues here. If John Ensign did anything illegal he should resign, if not then voters should decide in 2012 if he should stay.”

Rob Lauer, a candidate for secretary of state, said he believes in loyalty and called Ensign “a great Republican.” It is up to Ensign to decide whether he can continue to be effective in Congress, he said.

“I like him personally,” Lauer said. “He has done a lot of good things for the state. But on a political level as a senator he has an obligation to the people of the state. If he can’t get bills through, if he is not effective for the state, he needs to do what is best for the state.”

Ensign’s troubles are an issue for Nevada Republicans because without them, he could raise money and help GOP candidates, Lauer said. Until the issues facing him are resolved, he can’t be an effective leader for Nevada Republicans, he said.

Craig Lake, candidate for Congressional District 1, declined to comment on the matter. Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge running for governor, also had no comment.

Patrick McNaught, candidate for Senate District 12, and Michelle Fiore, candidate for CD-1, could not be reached for comment. U.S. Senate candidates Sharron Angle also could not be reached.

Former County GOP Officers Get National Media Attention for Op Ed Calling on Ensign to Resign

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:30 pm April 10th, 2010

Such is the power of “new media,” Dear Readers.

Write a scathing op-ed about a prominent Republican senator, convince the publisher of an online news site to post it — and Bam! you’re headlining in stories at Politico, CBS News, the New York Times and (gasp!) even Huffington Post.

Here’s the op-ed piece by former Clark County GOP Chairman Richard Scotti and former Clark County GOP Treasurer Swadeep Nigam.  In was posted Thursday at Nevada News & Views and in a nutshell, it called on Senator John Ensign to resign, like, yesterday.  An excerpt:

“We are on the verge of great victory come November, but the most long-awaited victory can quickly slip through our grasp unless we immediately put the focus back on conservative issues,” they wrote on the blog Nevada News & Views. “We call on all true conservative Republican leaders and activists to speak out now for the resignation of Senator Ensign.”

It was the long-awaited and much-anticipated shot heard ’round the world.  Here we had not one but two Nevada Republicans calling for their scandal-rich embarrassment-of-a-senator to just resign, already.  Their fifteen minutes of fame came quickly and in a big way.

Here’s the New York Times piece titled “Two Nevada Republicans Call for Ensign to Bow Out”

Here’s the Politico piece titled “John Ensign faces increased pressure to quit”

Here’s the CBS News piece titled “Two Top Nevada Republicans Call for Sen. John Ensign to Resign”

Here’s the Las Vegas Sun piece titled “Fellow Republicans call for John Ensign’s resignation”

And here’s the HuffPo piece titled “John Ensign Resignation Calls Mount: Nevada Republicans Call for Senator’s Ouster”

Wowza.  That’s a lotta ink for two guys who don’t even work for the county party anymore.

Nigam agreed and said he is surprised the op-ed went so far, so fast.

“I thought it would stay in the state,” he said.  “I didn’t realize it would end up in the press in New York, DC and LA.”

“Because of the interent these days, I guess these things fly all over the place and can create a political storm,” he added.

But Nigam said he thinks more Nevada Republicans, including those in positions of leadership, should speak out on the Ensign matter.

“The leadership is very quiet, or in some cases there is no leadership,” said Nigam. “We do not even have a state party chairman right now. And we have a governor who is not really in a position to talk about Ensign’s issues.  So others must step up and say what needs to be said.”

“It’s nothing personal,” said Nigam. “I’ve done fund raising for Ensign in the past.  But when not one candidate in the state wants his or her photo taken with you in the midst of campaign season…  Usually candidates are very eager to be seen with their Senator and really count on having that support.”

Nigam left his position as Treasurer for the Clark County GOP in December 2009.  His departure corresponded with the resignation of seven other party officials on a day later referred to as “Black Thursday” by Republican party insiders. The officers and board members all resigned in the heat of controversy and in-fighting.

Nigam served as Assistant Treasurer for the state party for a brief period between December and January and then resigned that position as well.

Heller Says Ensign Needs to Be More Forthcoming With Press and Nevada Needs a Stronger Voice in Washington

By Sean Whaley | 2:15 pm April 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., today rejected the suggestion that he call on embattled U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., to resign because of an ongoing ethics investigation.

In an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, host Sam Shad said national and state Republican Party leaders have been criticized by Nevada political consultant Chuck Muth for failing to call for Ensign’s resignation.

“Will you call for Sen. John Ensign to resign?” Shad asked Heller.

“Not on this show,” Heller said. “I’m not going to call today for his resignation. Because John Ensign’s problems are John Ensign’s problems. They are not my problems. My job is to worry about the economy.”

But Heller said he stands by his criticisms of Ensign.

“I think John needs to be more forthcoming on the issues at hand,” he said. “He needs to come in front of the press, come on this show, and talk to you about the issues that are in front of him, and I think that has caused a lot of his problems.

“If John Ensign’s issues impact me politically then yes, I take exception to it,” Heller said.

Asked if Ensign’s political weakness is harming Nevada and the GOP, Heller agreed that the ethics inquiry is taking up much of his time and that Nevada needs a stronger voice in Washington.

“But if you are asking me to come on this show to ask for his resignation I’m not going to do that,” he said.

Heller agreed that having a “wounded junior senator” is cause for concern.

“But what that entails down the road, I don’t really know,” he said.

In the interview, Heller said the No. 1 topic on the minds of Nevadans is the economy and jobs, not health care.

“They are over 19 percent unemployment right now in Lyon County,” he said. “You put a couple of more points on that and you are at depression stages.”

Heller said he voted against the jobs bill recently passed by Congress because the measure contained a tax increase.

“You can’t grow government and create jobs at the same time,” he said. “You can’t raise taxes and create jobs at the same time.”

“Washington needs to get out of the way,” Heller said.

One way Congress could respond to the nation’s economic crisis is by lowering taxes, he said.

“I’d start with the corporate income tax,” Heller said.

But employers aren’t hiring because there is no stability coming from Congress, he said.

“I think there is a way to bring stability back to the process,” Heller said. “And that is to not have single control by one party of both houses and the presidency. And I don’t care if it is Republicans or Democrats.”

Disclosure:  Chuck Muth is President and CEO of Citizen Outreach, which provides funding for the Nevada News Bureau.

NRSC Included in Subpoena re: Ensign

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:05 am March 18th, 2010

The train to Endsville is picking up steam.

The gist:  Politico reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury looking into the Ensign scandal.   The NRSC was asked to turn over docs re: Ensign’s tenure as NRSC chairman (2007-08).

Hat Tip:  Ralston

Subpoenas re: Ensign Descend on Las Vegas Businesses

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:41 pm March 17th, 2010

The KLAS I-Team has updates to the ongoing Engisn saga including details on DOJ subpoenas issued last Monday to a number of Las Vegas businesses.  Folks were visited by an FBI agent and a prosecutor from the Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.

The subpoenas asked for records including emails, phone calls and calendars regarding interactions with Ensign, his Chief of Staff John Lopez, Doug Hampton, Cindy Hampton, Ensign’s political advisor Mike Slanker, and Slanker’s company November Inc.

The DOJ is looking for evidence of solicitation or arm-twisting or tit-for-tat promises from Ensign re: the employment of Hampton.  Deadline for all records is the end of the month.

(Note:  Yes, we already knew the Senate Ethics Committee had generated some subpoenas.  Most of the folks subpoenaed by the grand jury were also subpoenaed by the Committee.)

Safe bet:  Mike Slanker is wishing he had not hired Doug Hampton.

New Sandoval Radio Ad: Do you remember a time we weren’t embarrassed…?

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:20 am March 16th, 2010

Here’s the new Brian Sandoval radio ad, complete with happy tip-toe-through-the-tulips background music that kicks in as the following words are uttered (and Sandoval’s name is first mentioned):

“Do you remember a time when we weren’t embarrassed?  A time when honor and integrity were the rule, not the exception.  It can be that way again…”

Question:  Is the ad talking about Jim Gibbons, John Ensign, or both?  And is this the closest we’ll come to hearing a Republican call a fellow Republican on the carpet this campaign season?

The Middle of the End of the End for John Ensign

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:14 am March 15th, 2010

The Ensign Affair has dragged on that long, Dear Readers.  We can’t rightfully call this the beginning of the end (that happened when Doug Hampton went on a media tour late last fall) nor even the middle of the end (I’d call that for the week the Senate ethics investigation was formally opened).  But we’re now nearly, almost certainly approaching the end of the end.  Or at least the midpoint.  We think.

And so, when on Face to Face with Ralston last week, I gave some free advice to Republican leadership regarding the John Ensign scandal and subsequent Senate ethics investigation:  since you didn’t convince Ensign to resign last year, you’d better get it handled and move through things quickly now in order to get the matter out of voters’ minds before you get too far into campaign season.

Why?  Because as political strategist Dan Hart agreed, the media is going to keep asking and writing about it and the Dems are going to persist in using it to bash the GOP for standing behind or remaining silent on Ensign until such time as he goes away.

Case in point:  this Politico story. And you can bet more like it are on deck.

As I said in my F2F analysis, based on the content of Hampton-Ensign emails revealed in the New York Times last week, there is almost certainly an indictment coming.  Or should be.  The missives show that Ensign was attempting to help Hampton line up lobbying clients, including arranging meetings, during a time Hampton was subject to a (one-year) ban from lobbying his senator.  And that’s a violation of federal lobbying laws.  For both of them.

So, yes, although a turn of plot could render me wrong, I think this dark Grimm’s fairytale of a story is now in its last pages.


P.S.  A quick note on something that is not being much talked about:  We’ve yet to hear from Cindy Hampton (remember Cindy?)  If at some point she chooses to purge herself and speak out about the affair and presumed pressures placed upon her in the aftermath, she could be the final nail in Ensign’s political casket even without an indictment.

Update: A blogger wonders why Big Media is ignoring the Ensign story.

RNC and DNC: Dueling Ads

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:29 pm March 13th, 2010

Did you see the recent tit-for-tat ad duel between the DNC and RNC?  It’s the Massa and Rangel embarrassments vs. the Ensign and Vitter scandals, and there is plenty of disgrace to go around.