Posts Tagged ‘Lauer’

Fiery Nevada Secretary Of State Debate Focuses On Past Allegations

By Sean Whaley | 9:08 pm October 13th, 2010

Update (Nov. 3, 2011): The battery charges against Rob Lauer were dismissed this week.

Update (Jan. 22, 2011): Former Nevada secretary of state candidate Rob Lauer has filed a libel and defamation lawsuit against the woman who accused him of battery. At issue are some of her statements made to the media and to our editor (and that were subsequently included in blog posts on this website).


Original story

A debate today between Democrat Secretary of State Ross Miller and his Republican opponent Rob Lauer spent most of the time on past controversies, including Lauer’s alleged assault of a woman in a bar and Miller’s track record of prosecution as a Clark County deputy district attorney.

In one of the more fiery debates on the Face To Face television program hosted by Jon Ralston, the discussion started with an ad being run by Miller on Lauer’s alleged attack of a woman in a Las Vegas bar in June of this year. It also touched on an arrest of Lauer involving a business deal.

Lauer complained that the bar incident is being pushed for political reasons, while Miller countered that Lauer is facing misdemeanor charges in the case where he allegedly assaulted longtime Clark County GOP activist Jennifer von Tobel. Von Tobel filed a police report in the matter.

Lauer said he was contacted by an attorney representing Von Tobel seeking money to “make it go away” and that he would not cut a deal. Lauer declined to name the attorney.

Lauer’s arrest in California on a charge of grand theft involving the sale of an aircraft was also discussed.

Lauer said his accuser lied to the police and the charges have been dismissed. Lauer said he now has a case against his accuser for perjury.

“So at what point am I determined to be innocent,” he asked.

Miller acknowledged Lauer has not been convicted of a crime but said the ad is intended to show the differences between himself and his opponent.

“There is a sharp contrast in this race,” he said. “This is a very important position. And we’re treating this as if it was a job interview. And I as a former criminal prosecutor have a background that I’m very proud of. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in this office. And obviously one of the things that I think needs to be highlighted is my opponent’s background.”

For his part, Lauer criticized Miller’s performance in a Clark County criminal case, where he let an “axe murder” out of jail with a plea bargain that was questioned by a judge.

“So his record as a prosecutor, frankly is troubling,” Lauer said.

Miller said the case involved a man named Billy Merritt who had a troubled criminal history. Miller said he inherited a case involving Merritt that was years old and the witnesses to the crime could not be produced. Miller said a plea deal was agreed to by the entire district attorney’s office.

Merritt was the shooter in the infamous “show and tell” case where a man was lured to the desert and killed. After his release from prison Merritt was charged with attempting to kill a man with a hatchet.

It was this case that Miller prosecuted.

“I have an outstanding record as a criminal prosecutor,” Miller said.

Lauer said also he has evidence of voter fraud that has not investigated by Miller.

Miller said he has cracked down on voter fraud against ACORN, a Democratic organization charged with crimes from the 2008 general election. A trial in the case is still pending, which Lauer said is intentional to get the matter postponed until after the Nov. 2 general election.

Lauer said he has evidence of, “a lot of people who are voting who don’t exist and I have a record of that.”

Miller said he will investigate any voter fraud allegations if there is evidence to support such claims but that he won’t chase unfounded claims.

“But we’ll absolutely look into the allegations and if they have merit we’ll go after them,” he said.

Audio clips:

Secretary of State Ross Miller says Lauer’s background is an issue in the race:

101310Miller1 :15 my opponent’s background.”

Lauer says the assault allegation is politically motivated:

101310Lauer1 :21 I do not.”

Lauer says he has evidence of voter fraud that Miller has not investigated:

101310Lauer2 :04 that possibly be.”

Miller says he will investigate voter fraud if the allegations have merit:

101310Miller2 :07 go after them.”

Secretary of State Ross Miller to File His Campaign Contribution And Expense Report Early

By Sean Whaley | 2:02 pm September 14th, 2010

CARSON CITY – In an effort to convince his fellow elected officials that filing campaign contribution and expenditure reports online and before early voting is not too onerous for candidates, Secretary of State Ross Miller said he will do so voluntarily in advance of the Nov. 2 general election.

Miller has submitted a bill draft request for consideration by the 2011 Legislature to move the filing dates of the reports up so the information would be available to residents before they vote. Miller, who sought similar legislation without success in 2009, also wants the reports filed electronically so voters and others can search the information more easily.

Currently many of the reports are handwritten and they are not searchable.

Miller, who is running for a second term as secretary of state, said he will use himself as an example on how following his proposed legislation will not cause any great inconvenience or  create any great disadvantage for candidates.

So 21 days before the Nov. 2 general election, Miller said he will electronically file his campaign contribution and expenditure report online for the public to review. In keeping with his proposed legislation, Miller will also file a report four days before the general election detailing any contributions received by his campaign in excess of $1,000 after the initial report filing.

“Transparency in campaign finance is always one of our biggest priorities and we’re always ranked near the bottom if not the worst in terms of the disclosure that we have in place,” he said.

Miller said one of the objections raised to the proposal in 2009 by some lawmakers was that the online filing was too onerous for some candidates.

“In order to try to rebut that claim, I’m going to go ahead and comply with the proposed statute this election cycle,” he said. “Hopefully it will establish that it really isn’t that difficult.”

The way the law reads now, the reports are not due until Oct. 26, seven days before the general election, and they can be mailed in, meaning they may not be available on the secretary of state’s website until just a day or two before the election. This existing deadline is also well after early voting has begun. The majority of people now vote early, Miller said.

Early voting in the upcoming general election begins Oct. 16.

Miller’s proposal is one of several related to the filing of campaign contribution and expense reports that will be considered by the Legislature next year.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Democrats will seek a change to the law requiring the filing of every financial contribution, including the amount and name of donor, online within 72 hours of receipt by the candidate.

“We’re open to reaching some sort of compromise,” Miller said. “The most important component of the legislation is to make sure the reports are filed electronically.”

The way it is now, with a 100-page handwritten report on the internet, is not helpful to voters, he said.

Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, also has submitted a bill draft to move the reporting deadlines to before early voting.

Republican secretary of state candidate Rob Lauer could not immediately be reached for comment on Miller’s proposed legislation. In his response to a transparency questionnaire sent out by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, Lauer initially indicated opposition to the filing of campaign reports so the data can be searched. He subsequently changed his answer to support for the idea.

Independent American Party candidate John Wagner also indicated support for the idea in the NPRI candidate survey.


Audio clips:

Miller says Nevada ranks low in transparency for campaign reports:

091410Miller1 :14 some legislation through.”

Miller says the most important component is to make sure the reports are filed electronically:

091410Miller2 :17 on specific data.”

Miller says he will file his campaign report early and update it to show the process is not onerous for candidates:

091410Miller3 :32 submit another report.”

Voters to Remain in Dark About Campaign Contributions

By Sean Whaley | 6:05 am April 30th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevadans who intend to vote early in the primary and general elections this year will likely find themselves in the dark on the question of who has contributed to the campaigns of the candidates.

Despite efforts in past legislative sessions to improve the transparency of campaign contributions received by candidates, lawmakers have failed to make meaningful reforms to the reporting process.

The 2009 Legislature failed to approve efforts by Secretary of State Ross Miller to improve the reporting process by requiring electronic filing of the campaign reports. Electronic reporting would allow the creation of a searchable database to analyze who is contributing and in what amounts to the candidates.

Mandating electronic reporting for most candidates was supported in the Assembly but was amended out of Assembly Bill 82 by the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee in the final days of the session.

A look through reports now on file with the secretary of state’s office show that many are hand-written and difficult to read.

Another proposal to make the information more voter-friendly by requiring earlier reporting also failed.

Miller had proposed last session that candidates report individual contributions in excess of $1,000 to his office within a few days of receipt starting 40 days before the primary and general elections. The information would then have been posted on the SOS website and available for voters to review before casting their ballots, especially those voting early, as nearly 60 percent did in the 2008 election.

For the primary, early voting begins May 22, but the campaign contribution and expense reports are not due until June 1. And because candidates can send in their reports by certified mail on the June 1 due date, the release of the information to the public can be delayed even further.

The same scenario will occur with the Nov. 2 general election, with the second round of reports due Oct. 26. Early voting begins Oct. 16.

The proposal – which also covered expenditures and multiple contributions from a single individual exceeding $1,000 – was discussed in committee but never actually made it into any version of AB82.

Miller said the campaign contribution and expense information available on his agency’s website consistently gets an F grade because of this lack of transparency.

The F grade was awarded in 2008 by the Campaign Disclosure Project in large part because the reports are not searchable.

“We need to put it into some type of format the public can use,” Miller said. “A 100-page handwritten report is not useful.”

Miller said he will try again to push for more transparency in 2011 if he is re-elected to another term as secretary of state.

In the meantime many voters will not have the information available this election year unless candidates take it upon themselves to voluntarily report their contributions on their own websites.

The 40th day before the June 8 primary is today.

Reactions from a handful of candidates on the idea of voluntary reporting vary; some say a voluntary posting of information is unworkable because it could give opponents an advantage if they did not participate as well. One lawmaker, however, suggested it could work to a candidate’s advantage.

Several other candidates contacted for the story did not return phone calls.

Miller, acknowledging that he has taken the lead on seeking reforms to the reporting process, said he will make his contributions public ahead of the general election on his website. Miller does not have a primary.

Miller said he will do so even though it may put him at a disadvantage by giving his opponents information about his campaign than he will not have from them. So starting 40 days before the general election, he will post all contributions in excess of $1,000 within 72 hours of receipt to his website for voters to view if they choose to do so.

“If it puts me at a disadvantage, we’ll see,” he said.

Republican governor candidate Mike Montandon said if elected to the job, he will push for reforms to make campaign reports more transparent for the public. Ironically, Montandon said he files his reports electronically in a format that would allow for searches. But the data is then converted into an unsearchable file for posting on the secretary of state’s website.

“This one is a slam dunk,” he said. “It’s common sense. I’m a freedom of speech person. I don’t believe there should be restrictions on who spends what on a campaign, but the information should be totally transparent.”

But Montandon said he would not post such data on his campaign website unless every candidate did the same, citing a disadvantage if his opponents could review his donor list without him having access to their information as well.

Gov. Jim Gibbons, one of three major GOP candidates seeking the governor’s seat, said he has no problems reporting his contributions, but questioned whether he would have the staff available to make such updates.

“We do not have individuals who are directed to work 100 percent of the time on the website or be data input people,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with openness.”

Democratic governor candidate Rory Reid would support more openness and transparency in the campaign contribution and expense reporting process, but he has no plans for early reporting in this election, said his spokesman Mike Trask. Reid has already put out a plan for changes he would make to ensure state government is more ethical and open, changes which he has already implemented as Clark County Commission chairman, he said.

“Reporting early would be problematic for a variety of reasons, the most obvious being the issue of fairness,” Trask said. “We’re going to file the report when we are legally required to do so as we are certain other candidates will do as well.”

Rob Lauer, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, said he supports reporting contribution information so voters can have access to it, but suggested the process needs to be ongoing so that the information does not generate undue momentum for those who receive a lot of financial support.

“I’m not sure I want to see campaign contribution reports affect the way people vote,” he said.

Rather than require reporting of large contributions beginning 40 days before an election, Lauer said transparency concerns could be addressed by requiring the information to be reported within 72 hours, regardless of when the money was received in an election cycle.

Ongoing contribution reporting would help get away from the “horse race” mentality, he said.

Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, said he has no problem with reporting his donations, but said for many legislative races the financial support is relatively modest.

“Most of my contributions are $100, $500 or $1,000,” he said. “You can look at my past reports to see who is contributing to my campaign.”

Stewart said Democrats get a lot of their money from labor unions, Republicans get a lot from the business community and the gaming industry supports candidates of both parties.

“There are no surprises, really,” he said.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said he would like to see the secretary of state’s office set up a process where candidates could voluntarily report their contributions using the guidelines and have them posted on the SOS website.

Candidates who choose to voluntarily post their contribution information might get a favorable response from voters for making the information public, he said

“I don’t think it would put a candidate at a disadvantage,” Goedhart said. “Voters are tired of business as usual.”

Passing legislation to require the reporting of such information would be fine as well, he said. But in the meantime, there is no reason why candidates could not do so on their own.

“Anything that adds transparency would be fine with me,” he said.

Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said he supports the earlier reporting language proposed by Miller in the 2009 session, but suggested a voluntary process whereby candidates would post the information on their own websites would not be practical. One candidate might post the information prominently while another would bury it on the website. It would also require voters to seek out each candidate’s website, he said.

An alternative would be to have the secretary of state’s office set up a system that would be uniform for candidates who wanted to provide the information. But it is unlikely that many candidates would voluntarily report because of a concern their opponents would not do the same, he said.

Transparency is critical but not likely to occur without legislation, Segerblom said.

The electronic filing requirement would not have been in place for this election cycle anyway. AB 82 was amended by the Assembly Elections, Procedures, Ethics and Constitutional Amendments Committee to have the requirement take effect in January of 2011.

AB82 passed the Assembly 23-18 on May 21 with the electronic filing requirement in place. It provided an exemption for a candidate who did not have access to a computer and limited the requirement to candidates who collected more than $10,000.

Stewart said he voted no on the bill because of other sections dealing with voter registration changes, not because of the electronic contribution reporting requirement.

But the bill, which contained numerous other provisions relating to election law, was then amended May 30 by the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee to delete the electronic reporting requirement. Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, made the motion to delete the provision. Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, voted no. Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, abstained, according to the committee minutes.

The bill then passed the Senate on a 16-5 vote.

Ultimately none of the provisions of AB82 survived because the Legislature ran out of time before taking final action on the measure.

Numerous state assembly and senate candidates contacted for their comments on the issue did not return calls.

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.

Day Three: Candidate Filings

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:35 pm March 3rd, 2010
9 AM:

Bob Larkin (R) – State Senate Washoe District 2

9:55 AM:
Rob Lauer (R) – Secretary of State (filed in LV)
11 AM:

Sam Dehne (D) – CD 2

Steve E. Martin (R) – State Treasurer

11:40 AM:

David Schumann (IAP) – Assembly District #39

3:15 PM:
Annie Black (R) – State Assembly District 2 (filed in LV)

Stanleigh Harold Lusak (R) – Governor

5 PM

Jeffrey C. Reeves (Non-Partisan) – U.S. Senate

Note:  Annie Black (R) – Assembly District 2 filing has been turned over to the Clark Co. Registrar, the appropriate filing official

SOS Candidate Rob Lauer Criticizes Ross Miller’s Past Position on Voter ID, Pushes Ballot Initiative

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:19 pm February 23rd, 2010

Secretary of State candidate Rob Lauer is here at the special session and is critical of Ross Miller (see the bold text below) via the following ballot initiative:


Candidate for Nevada Secretary of State Sponsors Voter ID Ballot Initiative

THE SAFE ACT ~ The Secure and Fair Elections Act

Las Vegas, NV – February 23, 2010 – This November, Nevada voters will not be required to show government-issued photo ID when they arrive at the polls. That may be the last time they do not need to bring an ID, depending on how they vote on a common sense ballot initiative. A proposal requiring a government issued picture ID at the polls will appear on the ballot just a few months after the regional director for ACORN will go on trial for charges of felony voter fraud in the 2008 election.

The SAFE ballot initiative is sponsored by Rob Lauer, Republican candidate for Nevada Secretary of State. Lauer is challenging incumbent Democrat Ross Miller.

In 2008, Clark County became the focus of a voter fraud scandal involving the political activist group ACORN. ACORN’s Las Vegas offices were raided by Las Vegas Metro Police after county officials discovered voter registration forms with fictional names. The local ACORN office administrators are accused of running an illegal voter registration incentive scheme. Investigators said the employees created fake voter registration cards in order to earn the incentive pay. ACORN’s Deputy Regional Director, Amy Busefink, will stand trial in July, charged with 13 felony counts related to voter fraud. ACORN’s local field director, Christopher Edwards, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of gross misdemeanors related to the incentive scheme and will testify against Busefink. On February 17, Busefink appeared in court to request that she be tried in a separate case, completely removed from charges pending against the group ACORN. The judge denied her request.

Announcing his decision to introduce the ballot initiative, Rob Lauer said the following:

“Not only has the constitutionality of Voter ID been recently upheld by the United States Supreme Court, it helps to uphold the integrity of our republic and the constitution. After watching the ACORN fraud I feel we need this ballot initiative to be brought before the people of Nevada now. If Ross Miller hadn’t opposed Voter ID four years ago the ACORN scandal would have been avoided. Nevadans have the right to decide if they value their democracy enough to ensure its authenticity. I am sponsoring an initiative for the November 2010 ballot requiring voters to show a government-issued picture ID when they vote. This common sense law will protect all of us from the felony voter fraud that was nearly pulled off by ACORN in this last election.”

In 2008, Indiana passed a similar initiative requiring voter identification. The constitutionality of the law was challenged in the United States Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion Election Board. In a 6-3 ruling, the High Court upheld the state’s right to require a government issued picture identification in its elections.

I’ll try to get a statement from incumbent Secretary of State Ross Miller – who is also here at the special session, of course – and will update here if I do.

Rob Lauer Opts Out of CD-3, In for SOS

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:05 pm January 29th, 2010

Rob Lauer today sent out a press release and tonight talked with me about his switch from the CD-3 primary race against Joe Heck 9 – with the winner to take on Dina Titus in November – to a run for Secretary of State.  A few of his comments:

“With the Scott Brown race in Massachusetts, we saw that one seat can make a difference.”

“This week we saw the move for CD-3 from leaning Democratic to Toss Up; we saw the LVRJ polls…  It became obvious to me that this seat is very winnable, and that we’re seeing a shift in the country.  And I believe that the shift of power in the House could come down to a small number seats.”

“So, I decided… In CD-3, against Joe Heck, it would be an even race, financially speaking, and it would probably be a close race.  And I really do not want to spend my time over the next 5 months trying to rip Joe apart and spending all that money just to see who will get the opportunity to beat Dina Titus, and whatever damage that might do to either of us.”

“I believe the Republicans can and will win Titus’ seat, but ultimately, we need to remember why we are serving, why we are running for office.  Primary in-fighting could cost the Republican party a valuable seat.  It’s a risk I’m not willing to take.”

“Nevada needs a strong business leader in the Secretary of State’s office.  We need someone who understands money and business.  Nevada is suffering an economic meltdown right now.  Leadership is needed.  I’m happy to be that leader.”

Lauer said his website would be updated in the days to come, and that Nevadans could expect to see important proposals regarding changes in the Secretary of State’s organization.

Political Handicapper Charlie Cooked Moves NV-3 to “Toss Up”

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:50 pm January 25th, 2010

Political Handicapper Charlie Cook today updated the NV-3 race to a “toss up.”  Bad news for first term Democratic congresswoman Dina Titus, good news for GOP challengers Joe Heck or Rob Lauer.

Stand by for comments and updates (which I will post here).