Posts Tagged ‘Masto’

$280,000 NDOT Contract Put On Hold After Concerns Raised By Gov. Sandoval, Transportation Board Members

By Sean Whaley | 2:34 pm November 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A 23-month, $280,000 contract approved by the Nevada Department of Transportation for a private sector individual to work as a liaison between the agency and contractors seeking work has been put on hold because of concerns expressed by Gov. Brian Sandoval and other members of the NDOT Board of Directors.

The contract with William “Buzz” Harris to serve as an ombudsman between the agency and bidders on contracts was approved by the agency in September, but NDOT Director Susan Martinovich said it will be put on hold while concerns raised today at the board meeting are resolved.

The board was told the $280,000 is the amount that can be spent on the services provided by Harris from August through June 2013, but is not guaranteed. Harris, who was selected after a request for proposals was issued by the agency, would be paid $100 an hour under the contract, which would include most of his expenses.

Courtesy of NDOT.

But Sandoval, who serves as chairman of the NDOT Board of Directors, noted the potential contract cost is well in excess of what even he earns as governor.

Other members of the board also raised questions about the contract, including Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who said such positions are usually filled internally by an agency rather that bringing in someone from the outside.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, also a member of the board, asked for information about who submitted proposals for the contract.

“My understanding is historically and traditionally an ombudsman position is contained within the respective department, and that person would have an encyclopedic knowledge of the operation,” Sandoval said. “With an external ombudsman, that person will in turn have to get a hold of somebody who is within the office to perhaps respond to those questions.”

There are a lot of unanswered questions that need to be answered in regard to the contract, including the cost, he said.

Harris is a former assistant executive director at the Nevada Associated General Contractors.

Assistant Transportation Director Richard Nelson, said the purpose of the contract is to provide a problem solver and facilitator for contractors seeking to do business with the agency. Harris has a good working knowledge of both the contracting business and NDOT, he said.

Reporting on the success of the program to NDOT is part of the contract as well, Nelson said.

“There is a lot of nuance to dealing with the department,” he said. “And a lot of times these new contractors don’t know what questions they should be asking. And we don’t want to see any contractor go under because they get balled up in the bureaucracy.”

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he has concerns with the nature of the contract in addition to the cost:

111411Sandoval :23 to those questions.”

Assistant Transportation Director Richard Nelson, said the purpose of the contract is to provide a problem solver and facilitator for contractors:

111411Nelson :18 should be asking.”

 

 

Nevada AG Masto, 36 Others, Support Nominee To Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 6:32 am October 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has joined with her Utah counterpart Mark Shurtleff  in asking the U.S. Senate to take up consideration of Rich Cordray’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Masto, a Democrat, and Shurtleff, a Republican, were joined by Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council, in discussing the request in a telephone conference call Tuesday with the media.

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

The National Association of Attorneys General on Tuesday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell supporting Cordray, a Democrat and former Ohio attorney general, for the position. Both Masto and Shurtleff signed the letter.

“The CFPB is intended to make basic financial practices such as taking out a mortgage or a loan more clear and transparent,” says the letter signed by 37 attorneys general. “It is also charged with ferreting out unfair lending practices.

“As head of the CFPB, Mr. Cordray will be an honest broker and strong advocate for both businesses and consumers that are committed to following the rules,” the letter said. “Some of us may disagree with aspects of the Dodd-Frank legislation. But we are united in our belief that Mr. Cordray is very well qualified to carry out the responsibilities of this position.”

Twenty-nine Democrats and eight Republicans signed the letter.

Cordray’s confirmation has been held up in the Senate over concerns about the new agency voiced by some Republicans.

State Employee Contracting Controversy Addressed With Administrative Changes

By Sean Whaley | 3:37 pm October 13th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Ten months after a legislative audit first raised serious questions about current and former state employees working as contractors for state agencies, the Board of Examiners earlier this week approved administrative changes to prevent future abuses.

The changes approved Tuesday bring closure to the issue of “double dipping”, but not before it spawned legislation and a serious examination of the state employee contracting process.

The audit, released in December 2010, identified numerous potential concerns, including a case of one worker seeking payment for 25 hours of work in one 24-hour day and another where a current state employee earned $62,590 as a contractor in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 while earning a state salary as well.

The audit identified 250 current and former employees providing services to the state. These employees were paid a total of $11.6 million during fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the years covered by the review.

The Board of Examiners is composed of Gov. Brian Sandoval, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller.

In addition to the administrative changes, Masto’s office was asked by the Legislative Commission’s Audit Subcommittee to review the information for potential criminal violations.

Jennifer Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said today the requested review was completed on June 10 but no action was taken against any current or former employees referenced in the audit.

“The case was declined due to insufficient evidence primarily related to the fact, as pointed out in the legislative audit, that no positive controls were in effect to document or record the time state contractors were actually engaged in their state duties,” she said.

The new rules added to the State Administrative Manual implement the changes mandated by Assembly Bill 240, sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks.

The new rules prohibit a current state employee from being hired under contract by a state agency unless approved by the Board of Examiners. The same approval is required of a former state employee who has not been out of state employment for at least two years.

Such contracts can only be approved if certain circumstances are found to exist, including situations where a short-term or unusual economic circumstance exists for an agency requiring such employment.

Smith said she is pleased with the voted by the board.

“I think we’ll see a lot better accountability and reporting on the use of consultants because of this,” she said. “I’m glad. It may be the type of thing that we need to keep sort of tweaking each session until we have it where we need it to be, but so far, so good.”

“I think we demonstrated it was the right thing to do,” Smith said.

State Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who serves as chairwoman of the Audit Subcommittee, said she was pleased that the Sandoval administration took the audit recommendations seriously. They are overdue, she said.

“There were a few instances that either were very sloppy record keeping or might have been more suitable for prosecution, so I hope somebody is following up on those,” Leslie said.

Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“If citizens are going to have confidence in government, they need to be assured that everyone is playing by the same rules,” she said. “The audit raised a lot of red flags about whether there were state employees who were getting sweetheart contracts.”

The administrative changes approved Tuesday will go a long way to correcting any such abuses, Leslie said.

The administrative changes come as yet another state employee contracting controversy involving a new member of Sandoval’s cabinet was recently reported in the Las Vegas Sun. The newspaper reported Sept. 29 that Frank Woodbeck, the newly appointed director of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, held down two state jobs last fiscal year, earning almost as much as the governor.

Woodbeck told the newspaper he worked 60- to 70-hour weeks to fulfill the demands of the two jobs.

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Audio clips:

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith says the law may need tweaking, but she is pleased with the changes:

101311Smith :10 far, so good.”

State Sen. Sheila Leslie says she is pleased the Sandoval administration took the audit recommendations seriously:

101311Leslie1 :20 the same rules.”

Leslie says the audit raised red flags about whether there were state employees getting sweetheart contracts:

101311Leslie2 :26 the Audit Subcommittee.”

Leslie says there were a few instances that may have risen to the level of prosecution:

101311Leslie3 :11 up on those.”

Nevada Agencies Fight Medicaid Fraud, Return Millions Annually To Program

By Sean Whaley | 9:55 am September 23rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Medicaid fraud is a growing problem here and around the country, and two different Nevada agencies are tasked with investigating cases and returning ill-gotten taxpayer dollars to the program.

The cases can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars when they involve multi-state investigations of large pharmaceutical firms, such as the $400 million paid by Merck in 2008 over rates charged to the program for its prescription drugs. Nevada, which played a key role in the Merck case, received $1.5 million as its share of the nationwide settlement with the company.

Or the cases can be more modest, such as the investigation earlier this year of two elderly brothers from Las Vegas, one of whom was eligible for Medicaid while the other was not. The ineligible brother attempted to use his sibling’s Medicaid identity to pay for a surgery.

Unluckily for him but fortunately for taxpayers, both brothers had scheduled surgeries for the same day. When the two different hospitals checked with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to verify the eligibility information, the situation came to light. The case is still under review.

The dollars involved in Medicaid fraud are not small, and even the money recouped from the more modest cases can quickly add up.

In the first seven months of this year, $1.15 million has been recovered by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, about half of it state funds. In 2010 the total recovery in both state and federal Medicaid funds was $5.72 million, and $5.5 million in 2009.

The big year for the unit came in 2008 when nearly $10.5 million was recovered, including $1.5 million from the Merck settlement. About $4.6 million was the state’s share of the recoveries.

“Obviously this is an important unit in my office and a top priority,” Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said in a recent interview. “It is important what we do because at the end of the day the goal here is to ensure that we’re protecting the integrity of the Medicaid dollars, the money that comes into the state, and we’re going after the bad players, holding them accountable.”

Medicaid in Nevada will cost $1.6 billion this year

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

Medicaid is a health insurance program for low income residents, many of them elderly or disabled. The cost of the program is shared between the states and the federal government. The program is a big cost to the state general fund and continues to grow, so fraud is a serious problem that drains taxpayer dollars at a time Nevada can least afford it.

For this 2012 fiscal year, the total Nevada Medicaid budget is $1.6 billion, with just over $500 million coming from the state general fund. The federal government is paying 55 percent of the cost of the Nevada Medicaid program. Other revenues also support the program.

Brenda Lee Burch, chief of investigations and recovery for the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services within HHS, said the fraud investigations save state taxpayer dollars.

“I truly believe that one of the best ways my unit can help save taxpayer money here in Nevada is through Medicaid investigations and prevention of fraud and recovering back those wrong payments,” she said.

Mark Kemberling, chief deputy attorney general and director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit since 2008, said his office is charged with investigating providers of Medicaid services. These can be physicians, a hospital, a long-term care facility and many other types of health care providers. He has been with the unit since 1996.

He has a staff of 17, with 14 positions filled. The costs of the unit are paid for through fines and other assessments resulting from successful prosecutions. No Medicaid dollars or general fund tax dollars pay for its operation.

Burch said her unit is charged with investigating Medicaid fraud by both those individuals seeking eligibility and those already enrolled in the program. Her staff of 16 investigators also review potential fraud in other programs offered by the agency, from cash assistance grants and food stamps to energy assistance grants.

It was her staff who uncovered the case of the ineligible brother trying to obtain medical services through the Medicaid program. Families attempting to share Medicaid cards to receive services for ineligible family members are becoming more frequent, she said.

For the 2011 fiscal year that ended June 30, Burch’s unit received 3,800 referrals regarding allegations of Medicaid fraud. The top two types of allocations were potential duplicate assistance in two states, and eligibility questions because of under-reported income.

So far $500,000 in over payments have been identified in the previous fiscal year for which the agency is seeking reimbursement, with another $400,000 saved in “cost avoidance,” a calculation based on keeping ineligible people off the Medicaid rolls.

Burch said the cases come to her attention from a variety of sources, including the public, a hotline, school nurses, home care staff and pharmacists, among others.

“A medical benefit for a month can be huge if you have a large family and you take into account there could be surgery and all kinds of coverage, so it is the highest cost avoidance we see for all the programs we investigate,” she said.

High stakes Medicaid fraud cases frequently rely on False Claims Act

Some of the biggest Medicaid fraud cases both in Nevada and nationally involve a legal process called qui tam, where a court action is brought against a provider, frequently a pharmaceutical firm, by an individual on behalf of a state or the federal government. It is also known as the false claims act, which Nevada and about two dozen other states have in statute.

The claims are often filed by individuals within the companies as whistle blowers. Those who file such claims can receive a portion of any settlement. There are about 250 such cases currently under way around the country currently, Kemberling said.

The Merck case was one of these and was filed under Nevada’s False Claims Act. It resulted in a landmark legal decision by U.S. District Court Judge Howard McKibben in May 2006 allowing the case to proceed.

After seven years of investigation and litigation, it was settled in 2008, returning more than $400 million to the Medicaid program nationwide. The case involved the prices charged for the prescription drugs Vioxx, a discontinued arthritis drug, and Zocor, a cholesterol drug.

Another false claims act case now under way involves Wyeth, a pharmaceutical company being sued by the United States government and 16 states, including Nevada.

In the legal action, Wyeth is alleged to have failed to provide the same discounts to the government for its drugs, Protonix Oral and Protonix IV, as it provided for private purchasers. By failing to give the government equal discounts, Wyeth fraudulently avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates, and in so doing violated the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, according to the lawsuit.

“What we’re doing is taking the dollars that rightfully belong to Medicaid and putting them back there if somebody fraudulently took them,” Masto said.

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Audio clips:

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says Medicaid fraud investigation is a top priority for her office:

092211Masto1 :25 holding them accountable.”

Masto says the fraud unit does a great job at no cost to the state general fund:

092211Masto2 :18 pays for itself.”

Brenda Lee Burch, chief of investigations and recovery for the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, says fraudulent Medicaid costs can add up quickly:

092211Burch1 :19 that we investigate.”

Burch says recovering improper Medicaid payments is one of the best ways her unit can save taxpayer dollars:

092211Burch2 :17 those wrong payments.”

 

 

 

Sandoval Asks For Meetings With Washoe And Clark Counties Over $124 Million In Refund Requests

By Sean Whaley | 2:40 pm September 13th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today state officials will meet with Clark and Washoe county representatives who are seeking nearly $124 million in refunds from the state – before deciding if litigation is necessary.

Sandoval, attending a meeting of the Board of Examiners, said afterward that Nevadans expect their elected officials to talk over disputes to see if they can be resolved before resorting to the courts.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“I have always been working with local government and I think this is another opportunity to do that,” he said. “I think the people of Nevada, particularly in Washoe County and Clark County, expect their elected officials to work together toward a common good.”

The board, which also includes Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, agreed that holding meetings on the requests is the best next step to take in the dispute. The board briefly discussed the two demand letters at the meeting.

The meetings will allow for an investigation into the specifics of their claims, Sandoval said. The attorney general’s office, Sandoval’s office and the Department of Administration will have staff attend the meetings.

“I think it is prudent at this point before this matter were to proceed to any type of litigation to begin a dialogue between the state and the respective counties,” Sandoval said. “This is obviously a very complex legal matter that includes an interpretation of a very recent Nevada Supreme Court case.”

Depending on the outcome of the meetings, the Board of Examiners could then make an appropriate decision on the refund requests, he said.

Masto agreed, saying it makes sense to open a dialogue with the counties before moving to any legal action. Ultimately the board will have to decide whether to accept or reject the demands, she said.

The refunds were requested based on the court ruling in May on the Clean Water Coalition case that found the Nevada Legislature improperly took $62 million in 2010 from the local government fund to balance the state budget.

The ruling threw into question several other revenue sources Sandoval had proposed using for his 2011-13 budget, and led to a compromise with Democrats in the Legislature that included the extension of several tax increases that had been set to expire June 30.

But as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, both Clark and Washoe counties have submitted claims to the Board of Examiners requesting refunds of property taxes taken in the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions to help balance the state budget.

Washoe County is seeking $21.5 million. Clark County is seeking $102.5 million.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says there needs to be a dialogue with the counties on the refund requests:

091311Sandoval1 :20 Supreme Court case.”

Sandoval says Nevadans expect elected officials to work together:

091311Sandoval2 :12 a common good.”

 

Nevada Attorney General Still Analyzing County Refund Requests Totaling $123 Million

By Sean Whaley | 2:23 pm August 16th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said today it will probably be another month before she can publicly report the results of her staff’s legal conclusions regarding requests for refunds from the state by Clark and Washoe counties totaling $123 million.

Masto said her office is still “moving through the process” to determine if any refunds are owed the two local governments. Once that analysis is completed, Masto said her legal findings will be shared privately with Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Following that discussion, the Board of Examiners, made up of Sandoval, Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, will be briefed on the findings at a public meeting. It would be up to this board to approve any refund requests.

“We’re moving through the process and within a month or so the public will have more information,” Masto said.

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

Masto made her comments during an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program. Her comments closely mirrored those reported Monday by the Las Vegas Sun.

If it is determined the money should be returned, then a special session of the Legislature is one option to implementing a refund, Masto said.

“We’re working through that now and we’re looking at the various options that are out there if we are required to return the money,” she said. “Now, the mechanism for moving through that process we’re still working through. But that’s obviously an option. We’re not there yet. Right now we’re looking at the legal analysis to determine whether we even owe the money to the counties.”

The refunds were requested based on the Nevada Supreme Court ruling in May on the Clean Water Coalition case that found the Nevada Legislature improperly took $62 million in 2010 from the local government fund to balance the state budget.

The ruling threw into question several other revenue sources Sandoval had proposed using for his 2011-13 budget, and led to a compromise with Democrats in the Legislature that included the extension of several tax increases that had been set to expire June 30.

But as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, both Clark and Washoe counties have submitted claims to the Board of Examiners requesting refunds of property taxes taken in the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions to help balance the state budget.

Washoe County is seeking $21.5 million. Clark County is seeking $102 million.

Audio clips:

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says her office is still analyzing if the state owes the counties any refunds:

081611Masto1 :25 to the counties.”

Masto says the public should soon know more about the potential for a refund:

081611Masto2 :18 secretary of state.”

State Board OKs $539K To Pay Counties For Costs Of Running Special CD2 Election

By Sean Whaley | 12:25 pm August 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Board of Examiners today approved a request for more than half a million dollars from a legislative contingency fund to pay the counties for the cost of the Sept. 13 special election in the 2nd Congressional District.

The board, made up of Gov. Brian Sandoval, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, approved the $539,000 request, which will be considered Aug. 31 by the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.

Miller said the other options to pay for the election were to pass the costs on to the counties or to use a dwindling pool of federal funds, but that the request from the contingency fund is the best choice. Requiring cash-strapped counties to pay the costs could lead to cutting corners, and Miller said it is important to ensure the integrity of the election.

Secretary of State Ross Miller. / Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

Miller said his office made every effort to reduce the expenditures to reasonable levels. Initial estimates put the cost at in excess of $1 million

“We explored every avenue we could to try to reduce costs for the election,” he said. “The counties obviously had not budgeted for this election, so allowing them to be reimbursed from the contingency fund gives us a much greater level of comfort that they will ultimately run the election as the public would expect.”

Miller said the use of federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds was not recommended because the amount of money in the account is dwindling. The money has in the past been used to buy the electronic voting machines used in the state’s 17 counties for elections. The state has used just under $150,000 in HAVA funds for the special election, in part to provide replacement voting machines, he said.

Miller said it is too early to estimate the turnout in the election, which pits Mark Amodei, a former state senator, as the Republican, versus state Treasurer Kate Marshall, the Democrat. The race also includes Independent American Party candidate Tim Fasano and independent Helmuth Lehmann. The candidates are seeking to replace former Rep. Dean Heller, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Sandoval to replace John Ensign, who resigned.

But Miller said he does expect a low turnout in the race, which encompasses 16 of the state’s 17 counties plus a portion of Clark County.

“I think it’s going to be very low, just based upon the feedback that we have received and in conversations with the county clerks,” he said. “I think it is a little bit early to try to guess at the turnout percentage because the campaigns and the national parties obviously over the next few weeks will start expending significant sums of money trying to get people out to the polls, and so that could certainly influence turnout, but I still don’t think it’s going to be a very high turnout election.”

Secretary of State Ross Miller says using the legislative contingency fund to pay for the election is the best option:

081511Miller1 :24 funds for us.”

Miller says he expects a low turnout:

081511Miller2 :27 high turnout election.”

Secretary of State Investigators Arrest Southern Nevada Man in Multi-State Ponzi Scheme

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:28 am July 22nd, 2011

Investigators from the Secretary of State’s office today arrested Hans Seibt at his Las Vegas residence on 25 counts of securities fraud and six counts of theft. The criminal complaint filed by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto charges that Seibt was essentially operating a Ponzi scheme that victimized investors in Nevada and several other states.

Operating under the business names HSLV Development Corp. and Clark and Nye County Development Corp., Seibt successfully solicited investments of $10,000 or more from his victims, offering them trust deeds, joint venture agreements, and subscription agreements, all of which were supposedly secured by parcels of land Seibt was holding in Nye County.

Investigators say the land’s value was grossly exaggerated in order to support Seibt’s claims to his victims. The complaint also charges that Seibt and his representatives told victims they would receive a return of between 10 percent and 12 percent on their investment, but that Seibt, rather than actually purchasing the land, had used the money to pay off other investors and for personal use.

“Targeting senior citizens is particularly egregious,” Masto said. “I want to commend the Secretary of State’s office for bringing the evidence which resulted in the filing of this complaint.”

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

Secretary of State Ross Miller said: “I can’t stress enough the importance of every investor conducting the most thorough due diligence possible when making an investment. Investing is a complicated and, to varying degrees, risky process. So-called interest payments or distributions that are paid to some investors aren’t a guarantee that an investment is legitimate. That’s the whole basis for a Ponzi scheme. Potential investors just can’t be careful enough, especially in the current economic environment.”

Seibt was booked in Clark County jail this morning, and was initially being held without bail pending an initial appearance in Justice Court.

As in all criminal matters, the Secretary of State’s office cautions that allegations are only accusations and individuals are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Gov. Sandoval Directs Review Of State Agencies After Discovery Of Undisclosed Employee Settlements

By Sean Whaley | 4:26 pm May 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today asked for a statewide review of cash settlements with former state employees after Controller Kim Wallin uncovered three payments to former Department of Transportation workers that were not approved as required by state law.

One of the payments, to former NDOT employee Chris Sanseverino, totaled $150,000. The others were $22,500 paid to Brenda Hale and $10,000 paid to Dorothy Sewell. Reasons for the payments, authorized in 2010, have not yet been made public, but Sandoval was told the $150,000 payment was a settlement for three separate matters. Sanseverino also received a $25,000 settlement from NDOT in 2008.

The three payments were authorized by top officials with the Department of Transportation, but were never reviewed by the Nevada Transportation Board or the Nevada Board of Examiners.

The largest payment should have come to the Board of Examiners for review and approval because it exceeded a $75,000 threshold requiring action at a public meeting of the board.

“I want to be sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Sandoval said. “That absolutely under no circumstances would a settlement that exceeds that $75,000 threshold would not have a review process by the Board of Examiners.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he wants a comprehensive review of settlements with state employees/Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

“I’d like to suggest that (state Budget Director Andrew Clinger) review the entire state government to ensure that there are no other settlement account funds that exist out there so there aren’t resolutions of matters that are going on without the approval of the Board of Examiners,” he said.

While prior settlements may not require board action now, Sandoval said he wants a report on any such agreements made in past years by all state agencies.

Wallin said the failure to keep taxpayers apprised of such cash settlements is a reason why the state’s Division of Internal Audits should be under the control of her office. The internal audit function is now under the Department of Administration. A bill making its way through the Legislature would transfer the function to Wallin’s control.

“If you’ve got audit reporting directly to the governor’s office, it’s kind of like the fox guarding the hen house,” she said. “We need to have checks and balances.”

The Board of Examiners, made up of Sandoval, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, was briefed on the NDOT contracts issue today. The board was told the payments were clearly not transparent.

A representative of the Transportation Department spoke briefly to the board on the issue, but NDOT Director Susan Martinovich was unable to attend the meeting.

Wallin also attended the meeting, and said another cash settlement of $12,000 has been identified by her office as being paid by the Nevada Division of Insurance to an employee in February of this year.

As a member of the Transportation Board of Directors, Wallin said she will ask Martinovich at the next meeting July 11 to provide information about all settlements entered into by the agency, including those with contractors.

“Besides going to the Board of Examiners and having strict procedures we also need to go and make sure that it is a clear and transparent process,” Wallin said.

Such employee settlements are not supposed to be confidential, but NDOT officials have said the agreements with the former employees are confidential, she said.

Masto, who also serves on the Transportation Board, said she will make a similar request of the agency.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said today she will seek a full accounting of NDOT settlements with former employees/ Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

“One of the requests I will be making is that the department go through and pull all of those similar types of contracts that were entered into and bring those before the board so we are at least aware of how many are out there, what occurred, what dollar amount we are looking at,” she said.

Masto said her office will also be reviewing whether any such settlements can be ratified by the board after the fact.

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he does not want such employee settlements to bypass review again:

051011Sandoval1 :15 Board of Examiners.”

Sandoval says he wants a review of all state agencies for information on any such settlements:

051011Sandoval2 :19 Board of Examiners.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says she will ask the Transportation Department for a full accounting of such settlements:

051011Masto :22 have to investigate.”

State Controller Kim Wallin says such settlements must be fully disclosed to the public:

051011Wallin1 :19 agreements were confidential.”

Wallin says the internal audit agency should be under the control of her office:

051011Wallin2 :06 the hen house.”

Nevada’s Challenge To Health Care Law Could See Ruling By January But Appeal Certain

By Sean Whaley | 1:45 pm November 8th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The private attorney working on Nevada’s challenge to the new national health care law says a federal judge in Florida should rule on the case by January, setting the stage for an appeal that ultimately is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson gave Nevada and 19 other states a victory in October when he rejected the federal government’s efforts to get the lawsuit thrown out of court.

“I think by mid-January we will have a decision out of Judge Vinson,” said Las Vegas attorney Mark Hutchison, representing Nevada without charge in its challenge to the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Vinson is now scheduled to hear arguments on Dec. 16 on two major legal issues: whether Congress can mandate individuals to purchase insurance coverage, and whether the law oversteps the federal government’s authority to tell states how to run their budgets by mandating an expansion of the Medicaid caseload.

The mandate by Congress to individuals to purchase insurance is a key element of the legal challenge, Hutchison said.

“He (Vinson) will decide whether or not, through the commerce clause, Congress can essentially regulate inactivity; that is, my decision or your decision not to purchase insurance,” Hutchison said.

The other issue is whether the mandate that states expand Medicaid coverage under the new law violates the 10th Amendment giving states authority over their own budgets and programs.

The mandate by the federal government is putting tremendous financial burdens on the state, he said.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has estimated the Medicaid mandate will cost Nevada $613 million over six years beginning in 2014 when a three-year federal payment to cover the cost of an increased Medicaid caseload goes away.

While the lawsuit remains active, Hutchison said actions by the next Congress could potentially make the legal challenge moot.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was swept away on Tuesday, and the new Republican majority has made repealing the health care law a top priority.

A repeal of the law would make the challenge moot, Hutchison said. If, in the alternative, Congress refuses to fund the implementation of the law, that too could sideline the challenge, he said. The argument could be made that the states would not have standing to challenge the law because it is not being put into effect, he said.

In his October ruling allowing the case to proceed, Hutchison said Vinson gave some hints about how he may rule. Vinson noted the Congressional mandate is unprecedented, saying in a footnote in his ruling there have been at least six attempts by Congress to implement universal health care in the past 90 years but that this is the first effort at a mandate.

Vinson said there may be a presumption that the mandate under the commerce clause is unconstitutional because it has never been used before despite claims by the U.S. Justice Department that Congress has the authority to do so.

“While the novel and unprecedented nature of the individual mandate does not automatically render it unconstitutional, there is perhaps a presumption that it is,” Vinson said in footnote 21.

“So I think that gives us a clue,” Hutchison said.

The ruling is also interesting in that it rejects an alternative effort by the federal government to justify the mandate under its taxing authority, Hutchison said. The penalty for not purchasing health insurance has always been defined as a penalty, not a tax, he said.

In his ruling, Vinson said: “Congress should not be permitted to secure and cast politically difficult votes on controversial legislation by deliberately calling something one thing, after which the defenders of that legislation take an ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ tack and argue in court that Congress really meant something else entirely, thereby circumventing the safeguard that exists to keep their broad power in check.”

The opposing motions for summary judgment that will be filed by the states and the U.S. Department of Justice will both say there is no need for a trial, only a ruling on the merits of the case.

Whichever way Vinson rules, the case will be appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court, Hutchison said

Other challenges, by states and individuals, are proceeding in other jurisdictions. The challenge by Nevada and the other states also includes the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals.

Hutchison agreed to represent Nevada in the case after Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto declined to file suit on behalf of the state. The election of GOP candidate Brian Sandoval as Nevada’s next governor ensures the challenge on behalf of the state will continue.

“He (Sandoval) welcomes with open arms the state’s continuing involvement in this litigation,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison said Masto’s argument for declining to challenge the law – that it was frivolous – has been repudiated by Vinson’s ruling allowing the case to proceed.

He called Masto’s decision, “a poor exercise of professional judgment.”

“Now Nevada is one state that is right in the hunt on a very important issue that is going to be proceeding up the process ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Hutchison said.

Asked for a response, Masto said: “It sounds like Mr. Hutchinson is still trying to justify his involvement in this case. I can understand his concerns considering that two separate federal courts have already dismissed similar actions against the health care law and the judge in the Florida action has dismissed four of the six claims and will make a decision on the remaining claims sometime in December.”

Audio clips:

Las Vegas attorney Mark Hutchison says key question is whether Congress can mandate the purchase of insurance:

110510Hutchison1 :32 on its constitutionality.”

Hutchison says mandate violates 10th Amendment:

110510Hutchison4 :22 without federal interference.”

Hutchison says  Gov.-elect Sandoval wants the challenge to continue:

110510Hutchison3 :18 happy with that.”

Hutchison says Attorney General Masto should have challenged the health care law:

110510Hutchison2 :42 U.S. Supreme Court.”

Challengers To Nevada Attorney General Claim Politics In Her Term, Incumbent Says She Makes Decisions On Legal Merits

By Sean Whaley | 9:09 pm October 19th, 2010

A debate today among the three candidates for Nevada attorney general focused on a disputed ad discussing a decades old criminal conviction of the Republican seeking the post and allegations of political favoritism by the incumbent, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto.

An ad being run by Masto about Republican Travis Barrick citing his arrest and jail sentence for “harassing women” was the first topic of conversation for the three candidates appearing on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program.

Barrick said the criminal trespassing conviction, which happened two decades ago, was the result of his protesting a California clinic that was performing illegal late-term abortions.

Barrick said he would not back down from his actions, which he said came about because the “rule of law” was being ignored in California by the attorney general and other law enforcement officials.

“It’s a badge of honor for me,” he said.

Masto said Nevada voters deserve to know that Barrick, who is running for the top law enforcement position in the state, has a criminal record and served jail time.

Masto said she has principles and values she upholds every day without violating the law.

“You don’t get to make a decision on who you are going to protect and who you are not going to protect,” she said.

Joel Hansen, the Independent American Party candidate for the position, said Masto’s views on Barrick’s actions contradict her actions when she failed to follow Nevada law by filing a lawsuit against the federal health care reform law when asked to do so by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“I think it is pretty hypocritical of General Masto to criticize Mr. Barrick when she committed a misdemeanor when she refused to sue on Obamacare after she’d been ordered to do so by the governor,” he said. “The Nevada statute says that she has to file suit if the governor tells her to and it is a misdemeanor if she doesn’t.”

Masto said that as attorney general, she has to evaluate whether to file legal actions, even if requested by the governor as her client. Masto said she evaluates whether to take action on a case based on merit, not politics.

“You have a professional responsibility based on the license as the attorney,” she said. “I’m the attorney in this particular instance. I was elected independently from the governor. You look at the legal merits, that’s what the attorney general does.”

Barrick said:  “The arrogance of her statement to say that that lawsuit has no merit is breathtaking.”

Hansen said he has filed a private class action lawsuit against the healthcare law that identifies numerous violations of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is not frivolous,” he said. “There is nothing frivolous about this. The only thing frivolous is her statement that it is frivolous.”

A federal judge in Florida ruled last week that the lawsuit against the healthcare law filed by 20 states, including Nevada, could proceed.

The debate also touched on Masto’s failed prosecution of Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki for allegedly misusing college savings funds while serving as state Treasurer.

Hansen said the prosecution had the appearance of being politically motivated.

Masto denied any political motivation for the prosecution, which was dismissed by a Clark County district judge late last year.

Audio clips:

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says voters deserve to know about her opponent’s criminal record:

101910Masto :10 next attorney general.”

GOP Attorney General candidate Travis Barrick says he served his time for trespassing and moved on:

101910Barrick :05 with my life.”

IAP Attorney General candidate Joel Hansen says Masto’s ad against Barrick is hypocritical:

101910Hansen :24 if she doesn’t.”

Nevada Attorney General Joins 49-State Mortgage Foreclosure Group

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:30 pm October 13th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is joining a 49-state bipartisan mortgage foreclosure working group as part of a coordinated national effort by states to review the practice of so-called “robo-signing” within the mortgage servicing industry.

The Mortgage Foreclosure Multistate Group, comprised of state attorneys general in 49 states, and state banking and mortgage regulators in 30 states, will explore whether individual mortgage servicers have improperly submitted documents in support of foreclosures.

Specifically, the group will look into whether companies misrepresented on affidavits and other documents that they reviewed and verified supporting foreclosure documentation. The group will also attempt to determine whether companies also signed affidavits outside the presence of a notary public, along with other possible issues regarding servicing irregularities or abuses.

“This issue affects peoples’ homes as well as the economy,” Masto said. “This probe will be thorough, expeditious, and fair to both homeowners and lenders.”

Submitting foreclosure documents without verification, with false representation, and/or signing certain legal documents outside the presence of a notary public may constitute deceptive acts and/or unfair practices, and may otherwise violate state laws and court rules.

The multistate group, through an executive committee, will contact a comprehensive list of individual mortgage servicers. The group’s initial objectives include: putting an immediate stop to improper mortgage foreclosure practices; reviewing past and present practices by mortgage servicers subject to the inquiry; evaluating potential remedies for past practices and to deter future improper practices; and establishing a mechanism for more effective independent monitoring of future mortgage foreclosure practices.

“This is a cooperative and coordinated effort to address a serious problem,” Masto said. “The group may limit, expand or change its objectives, but it won’t stray from the goal of addressing a situation that has affected and continues to affect homeowners.”

Investigation Of Former Nevada Nuclear Projects Chief Remains Unresolved After Two Years

By Sean Whaley | 8:12 am October 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – An investigation into the conduct of the former executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, sought by a state lawmaker after questions were raised about salary increases he awarded himself on the job, remains unresolved after more than two years.

A Nevada News Bureau public records request sent to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office generated a brief response saying the matter regarding Bob Loux was still under investigation and no information was available for release.

Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, asked the Nevada Attorney General’s office on Sept. 11, 2008, for an investigation into Loux’s actions for “malfeasance in office and possible criminal activity.”

Due to a conflict, the attorney general’s office asked Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley to look into Gansert’s concerns.

No results of any investigation have yet been reported by Haley’s office.

Gansert said she does not know why an investigation is taking so long but that it needs to be concluded in an effort to get the salary increases Loux awarded himself repaid to taxpayers.

“It is important that the taxpayers, at the minimum, get their money back,” she said.

Loux gave himself raises that were unauthorized, Gansert said.

The excess salary has not been returned to the state, although Loux’s retirement benefits were adjusted downward to account for the unauthorized pay hikes, she said.

Loux won a state Ethics Commission ruling on the matter, but Gansert said that ruling was based on a technicality.

Loux could not be reached for comment.

Gov. Jim Gibbons called in September 2008 for Loux’s resignation after learning of the salary overpayments, calling the level of mismanagement at the office “severe.” Gibbons said the salary overpayments, which went to other officials in the office as well, came to light when Loux sought funds to cover a shortfall in his budget.

Loux actually served at the pleasure of the Commission on Nuclear Projects, which accepted his resignation in September 2008.

Asked for a comment on the length of the Loux investigation, Gibbons said: “These are the types of situations that erode the public’s confidence in government. The progress of this matter should have been closely monitored by the attorney general to make sure the interests of the people of Nevada are protected.”

Gibbons’ comment prompted a response from Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto: “Unfortunately, the governor continues to want to play politics with this issue and ignore the facts. Based upon an internal conflict in my office, the case was referred out of my office to an independent law enforcement agency for investigation to protect the integrity of the legal process and the public’s confidence in that process. The very nature of the conflict requires that my office have no further involvement in the case.”

The salary issue went to the state Ethics Commission in March of 2009 based on a complaint also filed by Gansert. The commission ruled 3-2 that because Loux’s salary was actually set by the governor, the allegation he violated ethics laws by exceeding the legislatively approved salary for his office was not at issue.

Loux’s response to the ethics inquiry was that he acted within his authority and responsibility.

Information provided to Ethics Commission staff disclosed that the governor sets the salaries of the commission employees, not the executive director, and that they can be set at any level as long as the total amount in the salary budget category for the agency is not exceeded.

The two dissenting commissioners said the Legislature did set Loux’s salary by reviewing and approving the governor’s recommended budget for the office. They said the question of whether he violated the ethics laws should have been reviewed.

Gansert said the Ethics Commission decision never got to the issue of whether Loux gave himself unauthorized raises at taxpayer expense in violation of the state ethics laws.

According to an Ethics Commission investigator’s report approved Nov. 7, 2008, Loux’s salary was set by the Legislature at $104,497 in 2006 but he was paid $120,537 that year. His salary was set at $108,677 in 2007 but he was paid $125,355. He was authorized a salary of $114,088 in 2008 but received $145,718.

Gansert said the excess pay should be returned by Loux.

Nevada Attorney General To Hold Statewide Domestic Violence Fatality Review Summit

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:18 pm September 28th, 2010

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto will hold the first statewide Domestic Violence Fatality Review Summit in Las Vegas on Friday, bringing together over 120 people from around the state to address the issue of domestic violence deaths in Nevada.

The summit will take place at the Suncoast Hotel Casino, 9090 Alta Drive, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“I am sad to report that  this year, Nevada ranks No. 1 in the U.S. for women murdered by men,” Masto said. “Last year, Nevada ranked No. 5 according to the Violence Policy Center. We need to address these statistics and improve our system responses to domestic violence victims in order to save lives.”

Speakers at the summit will include Masto; Neil Websdale, director of the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative and a professor of criminology at Northern Arizona University;  Matthew Dale, executive director, Office of Victim Services, Department of Justice and a senior consultant to the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative; Chief Jerald Monahan, Apache Junction, Ariz., Police Department; and representatives from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Reno Police Department, Department of Public Safety, Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

The summit will also launch the Attorney General’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, created in 1987 to promote increased rights and services for domestic violence victims; to educate the public about the crisis of domestic violence and the prevalence of this epidemic in Nevada; and to encourage involvement and support from our community for domestic violence victims and those who serve them.

For more information on the summit, contact Kareen Prentice at 775.688.1872

State Attorney General Defends Record, Denies Playing Politics Under Fire from Opponents

By Sean Whaley | 3:55 pm September 27th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Catherine Cortez Masto points to a number of accomplishments in her first term as attorney general, from reducing methamphetamine production in Nevada to cracking down on mortgage fraud, all while having to live with major budget cuts and fewer staff.

Masto, a Democrat running for a second term, faces Republican attorney Travis Barrick and Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen, who is running as the Independent American Party candidate, in the Nov. 2 general election.

Both Barrick and Hansen criticize Masto for two controversies in her first term: her misguided and unsuccessful effort to prosecute Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki , a Republican, for allegedly misusing college savings funds while state treasurer, and her decision not to follow Gov. Jim Gibbons’ directive to file a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law.

Both candidates question whether Masto has let politics play a role in her decisions as attorney general, a claim she denies.

Masto said people do try to play politics with such cases but that her office does not engage in such conduct.

“It never will be,” she said. “I will always look at it from a legal perspective, what’s the best interest for the state of Nevada; the people I represent.”

Barrick, who went to law school late in life, said many of Masto’s priorities are laudable but that she is failing to pursue other important initiatives as the top law enforcement officer of the state, such as improving the safety of the state prison system, which is dangerous for both correctional officers and inmates, and protecting mining and ranching interests from legal attacks by environmentalists.

Hansen, who says he has more experience than both of the other candidates combined, said as attorney general he would file a “friend of the court” brief in defense of Arizona’s new immigration law. Hansen said he would also push for a similar law in Nevada and if it was challenged, file a counterclaim against the federal government seeking compensation for Nevada for the costs of providing services to illegal immigrants.

Hansen has already filed a private class action lawsuit against the federal health care law, arguing it violates the individual constitutional rights of Nevada residents.

“It wouldn’t be business as usual with me in there,” he said.

Masto is leading in a poll done for the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week. It shows Masto with 37 percent to 27 percent for Barrick. “Another party” candidate gets 3 percent in the poll and 22 percent are undecided.

Masto said one of the top issues she pursued upon being elected was methamphetamine production.

“Methamphetamine was a number one issue for us because we led the nation in first time use, both for our kids and our adults,” she said. “From my perspective we’ve done a phenomenal to address it.”

Masto said she worked with the Legislature in 2007 to put the common medicines used in the drug production behind the counter of pharmacies, which led to a huge drop in the number of labs manufacturing the drug in Nevada.

Masto acknowledges that one result of that successful effort has been to see more of the drug smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. But Masto said she is working with her counterparts in several Mexican states to address the drug importation issue, along with other important cross-border concerns including weapons trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking.

The efforts have produced results, as seen by the higher price and lower quality of meth found in Nevada, she said.

Now that meth use is under some control, a new threat is young people looking through the family medicine cabinets for drugs. As a result, Masto said the state and local governments are offering prescription drug roundups to collect and properly dispose of unneeded medications.

Masto said she is also working to address domestic violence, consumer fraud, especially for senior citizens, those who prey on families who face foreclosure, and Medicaid fraud, among many other issues.

With domestic violence, Nevada now leads the nation in the number of women murdered per capita as a result of domestic violence, she said. A gun is the weapon of choice in most of these cases, Masto said.

The state recently received a federal grant to perform a review of domestic violence fatalities with the goal of learning how to address the issue, Masto said. It will be a collaborative effort involving law enforcement, treatment providers, elected officials and others, she said.  As chairwoman of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, Masto said the state workers with the batterers as well to try to stem the violence.

“We’re doing all this with less,” she said.

Her employees are taking unpaid furloughs, but they also come in after hours to get their work done without being paid overtime, Masto said.

Masto said she has reached out to work with law enforcement and other groups involved in the various issues pursued by her office as a way of stretching scare resources even further. As a result, every major law enforcement agency in the state has endorsed her campaign, she said.

Masto has faced a few controversies in her first term as the top law enforcement office in the state overseeing the state’s largest law firm. Masto and Gibbons, a Republican, faced off over whether the state should sue over the new federal health care reform law.

Masto declined to intervene, saying the challenges under way did not require Nevada’s involvement and her office’s scarce resources could be devoted to other pressing issues. Gibbons went ahead independently to sue over the health care law.

Masto also took some pointed criticisms for pursuing the case against Krolicki, which was thrown out by a Clark County judge last year. Krolicki had been facing criminal charges regarding the expenditure of funds for a college savings program. Krolicki denied any wrongdoing and said the failed prosecution was politically motivated. Krolicki is running for a second term as lieutenant governor.

Regarding the health care challenge, Masto said she is a firm believer in states’ rights and has defended them, but her office has to pick and choose where to spend scarce resources.

“We have the highest unemployment rate, highest bankruptcy, highest foreclosure, these people are concerned, rightfully so, about how they are going to survive and keep food on the table,” she said. “So from my perspective if I have the ability to assist them in some form or fashion that is where I’m going to focus.”

The health care and Krolicki issues, along with Masto’s decision not to investigate former state nuclear projects director Bob Loux over a salary controversy, are the reasons cited by Barrick for running against Masto.

Masto, citing a conflict of interest, turned the Loux investigation over to the Washoe County Sheriff for investigation in September 2008. No results have yet been reported.

Barrick, who worked as a contractor for many years before going back to school and eventually earning a law degree, said he filed for the race because he did not see a conservative seeking to challenge Masto.

Barrick said his campaign is about bringing integrity to the job.

“One of the knocks on my candidacy is that I am a relative newcomer to Nevada politics,” he said. “My response to that was, the other side of that is, I don’t owe anybody any favors at all. You can see that just in the campaign contributions I have not received.”

While contributions are limited, Barrick said he defeated a GOP opponent in the primary who outspent him four to one, suggesting money in itself doesn’t decide who will win an election.

While supporting those goals Masto is pursuing, Barrick said he is concerned about the issues that are not getting the attention they deserve.

“I think the prison system is a mess,” he said.

Since the attorney general is a member of the Board of Prison Commissioners, Barrick said he would work to create a safer environment in the state’s prisons.

“My conscience will not allow me as a Nevada citizen to stand by and allow our prisons system to be barbaric both to the correctional officers and to the inmates,” he said.

Barrick said he also has questions about a controversial labor commissioner ruling in support of a tip pooling policy instituted by Wynn Resorts to include supervisors.

“The rich and powerful in this state are being given a pass on bad acts,” he said.

Hansen said he believes Masto’s priorities as attorney general have been misguided. In particular, she was obligated to file a lawsuit challenging the health care law when asked to do so by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“So she violated her duty,” he said. “She had no right to say no. I filed a private class action lawsuit because she failed to file one.”

Hansen said he would also seek to follow the lead of the Ohio attorney general, who sued several major Wall Street firms on behalf of the investors of the state and won a $1 billion settlement from American International Group, Inc. (AIG) and lesser amounts from other firms.

“What was our attorney general doing with her time while the Ohio attorney general was getting $1 billion for Ohio,” Hansen asked. “Well what she was doing is going after Brian Krolicki and getting thrown out of court because it was groundless. That’s what she did. That’s what she did for Nevada.”

Hansen said as attorney general he would also undertake a review of the various local gun laws in the state, particularly the requirement in Clark County that handgun owners register their weapons, to ensure their constitutionality. Hansen would then challenge any that violate the Second Amendment.

“I’m the most qualified and experienced candidate in this race,” he said. “And I don’t think anyone can deny that. That’s the truth.”

___

Audio clips:

Masto says she has worked to combat methamphetamine abuse in her first term:

092410Masto1 :19 a phenomenal job.”

Masto says she has worked directly with her Mexican counterparts to fight drug trafficking:

092410Masto2 :18 of our countries.”

Masto says she works collaboratively with law enforcement and others to make scarce resources go further:

092410Masto3 :27 find the solutions.”

Masto says she has focused on the issues that mean most to Nevadans:

092410Masto4 :17 going to focus.”

GOP AG candidate Travis Barrick says he has integrity and owes no one any favors:

092410Barrick1 :24 have not received.”

Barrick says Masto not working on important issues:

092410Barrick2 :13 of Prison Commissioners.”

Barrick says he would tackle prison problems as attorney general:

092410Barrick3 :17 other for it.”

Barrick says miners and ranchers aren’t being represented:

092410Barrick4 :09 are being represented.”

IAP AG candidate Joel Hansen says he has already challenged health care law on his own:

092410Hansen1 :47 way we want.”

Hansen says he would emulate Ohio AG and seek damages from Wall Street for Nevada investors:

092410Hansen2 :36 know about it.”

Hansen says Masto wasted time on Krolicki prosecution instead of recouping money lost by Nevada investors:

092410Hansen3 :17 did for Nevada.”

Hansen says he is the most qualified candidate:

092410Hansen4 :17 that’s the truth.”