Democratic Assemblywoman and Ways and Means Chairwoman Maggie Carlton wanted to safeguard against “even the slightest appearance, hint or suggestion” of any impropriety within Nevada’s gaming industry when she requested a secret recording and affidavit from Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett detailing a March 2016 encounter with Attorney General Adam Laxalt, according to a subpoena she issued last week.
The request, which was sent May 3rd and obtained by The Nevada Independent, details the legal rationale and legislative interest in obtaining documents and recordings from the Gaming Control Board pertaining to the hastily-arranged meeting between the two men, during which Laxalt asked Burnett to intervene in a civil dispute on behalf of Laxalt’s billionaire campaign donor Sheldon Adelson. Laxalt’s deputy had advised Burnett against the board taking legal action in the suit earlier that month.
The subpoena notes the responsibility the Nevada Legislature has to “preserve and protect the honesty and integrity” of the gaming industry and to protect the financial well-being of the state.
“The Assembly Committee is conducting a study and investigation of the procedures, methods and operations of the Office of the Attorney General in its capacity as the legal counsel and legal adviser for the Gaming Control Board to determine whether statutory changes are necessary in order to guard against even the slightest appearance, hint or suggestion of improper influence, favoritism or impropriety among the public officers charged with ensuring that ‘gaming is conducted honestly, competitively and free of criminal and corruptive elements,’” it reads.
Carlton introduced a bill draft request on Wednesday that would allow the Gaming Control Board to hire its own counsel outside the jurisdiction of the attorney general’s office.
“We have to make sure our Gaming Control Board has the legal advice they need to do their jobs,” she said in an earlier interview. “And there’s a problem right now, so we want to make sure they have the folks that they need.”
Assembly leadership are still determining when in the remaining weeks of the legislative session to hold a hearing on the matter, and whether to subpoena Laxalt to appear. Laxalt’s chief of staff Nick Trutanich said in a May 10 letter that the attorney general and his staff were “willing to appear at a fair and independent hearing to clear up any questions the legislature may have about the Gaming Control Board’s request to our Office for legal assistance responding to a request that the Board received about protecting the confidentiality of documents.”
Nevada lawmakers are given authority to issue subpoenas and hold hearings on any issues “pertinent to their legislative business or possible future legislative action.”
The subpoena also notes that the requested evidence could shed light on the procedures and operations of the attorney general’s office and any possible “problems or conflicts.”
“Additionally, because such documentary evidence may expose potential misconduct in state public office, it is pertinent to legislative business or possible future legislative action because the Assembly and the Senate are invested with plenary and exclusive constitutional powers regarding impeachment and removal from state public office under Article of the Nevada Constitution,” the subpoena states.