The Nevada Independent

Your state. Your news. Your voice.

The Nevada Independent

Team Laxalt sends strange, threatening email

Jon Ralston
Jon Ralston
Ralston Reports

At first I thought it was funny.

There I was, enjoying my Saturday evening at The Venetian poker tables, when I checked my phone to find the most astonishing email I have received in three decades-plus of covering politics. It came from Adam Laxalt campaign spokesman, Parker Briden, was copied to the campaign manager, Kristin Davison, and was headlined: “Story”:

We expect that you will provide us with advance notice of and a reasonable opportunity to respond to any negative allegation or claim you intend to publish about Adam, his family or his campaign. A failure to provide this opportunity will be viewed as evidence of your actual malice toward Adam.


Parker Briden

I hardly know where to begin. But I know where to end: I have decided this is not entirely a laughing matter and that an oblique threat from the state’s highest law enforcement officer is probably not serious but still no joke.

I can only assume that Briden’s missive to me came in response to this mischievous tweet of mine posted Friday afternoon as I was penning my tribute to Laxalt’s grandfather, the late senator who died last week:

Working on a very extensive Laxalt piece for Sunday's @TheNVIndy. Lots of stuff I have uncovered that you have not heard before. Follow @TheNVIndy.

(As an editor trying to draw more eyes and followers to The Indy Twitter account, it’s my prerogative to tweet out a “tease”.)

Some background: Laxalt’s campaign almost never responds to inquiries from our reporters. Most recently, the campaign even told one member of our team he would be barred from Laxalt’s Basque Fry a week from Saturday. And his taxpayer-funded office — again, that’s the attorney general’s office — almost always ignores even our simplest questions and requests.

So to receive this email at 6 PM on a Saturday evening, when I would be publishing my piece in just a few hours, is simply bizarre.

To recap: The AG’s office, with his approval, routinely ignores public information questions from my reporters, but his campaign team, with his approval, feels just fine about sending a threatening email about a story they thought I was writing?

Sure, it’s amusing that the campaign was so easily played. Sure, it’s an embarrassingly inept email — “negative allegation” is not a phrase most educated humans would use (all allegations have a negative connotation), and the final, threatening sentence (“actual malice”) is laughable as well as a mangling of the legal libel standard. But this message clearly was countenanced by the attorney general, and some might think it’s less funny than scary.

I am not really scared, though, and I won’t get all melodramatic about the abuse of power here. This is more about the quality of the campaign team than anything else. A mature, professional team would have emailed or called me and said something like, “Hey, we see you may be writing a story. If that’s the case, we’d appreciate an opportunity to chime in.”

(Another member of Team Laxalt sent out a series of unhinged tweets attacking me after my tweet on Friday afternoon, tweets that now look rather foolish. And many of which have now been deleted.)

One more thing: I may not be Abe Lincoln, but I have no malice toward anyone, especially someone I barely know. That I have written Laxalt is unqualified to be governor does not mean I hate him; it’s just my opinion based on his performance. Period.

To say otherwise is, um, a negative allegation. But I don’t think it’s evidence of actual malice. I just think it shows just how hypocritical Adam Laxalt and his teams are — and how fearful they are of any potentially probing look into his record.

Editor's note: This blog post is one in a series about The Indy's dealings with hostile elected officials and campaigns. It is written not to dramatize/sensationalize events, but to be transparent about how we as a news organization interact with campaigns and public offices, and vice versa — and not always ideally — and to give you my perspective. We, as always, welcome comments.


Featured Videos

7455 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy Suite 220 Las Vegas, NV 89113
Privacy PolicyRSSContactNewslettersSupport our Work
The Nevada Independent is a project of: Nevada News Bureau, Inc. | Federal Tax ID 27-3192716