In Nevada, legislators are reportedly set to launch an official inquiry tomorrow that will seek to discern whether the western state’s Republican attorney general had acted improperly on behalf of giant American casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
According to a report from the Associated Press news service, Democratic lawmakers in the state have suggested that Adam Laxalt was lobbying on behalf of Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, when he unexpectedly requested a meeting with AG Burnett in March of last year.
Burnett is Chairman for the Nevada Gaming Control Board and secretly recorded the meeting, which reportedly took place after Laxalt curiously travelled to Reno and picked up the soon-to-be-vacation-bound regulator from a car dealership before driving him to a nearby coffee shop for talks.
The Associated Press reported that Laxalt revealed via a February statement that he had been approached in 2016 by representatives of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and asked to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit that had been painting an unflattering picture of Adelson. In his conversation with Burnett, the attorney general allegedly requested Burnett to file a legal opinion that would have favored the 83-year-old millionaire casino mogul and the confidentiality of his firm’s gambling audits.
“Don’t go soft on me,” Laxalt, who had been expected to run for the post of Nevada governor next year, reportedly told Burnett. “I think it is a challenging request because it will look like [Las Vegas Sands Corporation] is getting a special thing and so I wouldn’t do anything that jeopardizes me either.”
Burnett, who later took his recording of the conversation with Laxalt to federal law enforcement officials, reportedly replied that “the optics would be horrendous” for any such filing and refused to intervene as to do so would be improper and unnecessary.
The Associated Press reported that Laxalt subsequently backed off by telling Burnett that “I’m not trying to pitch a side or anything on it”.
The news service reported that neither Burnett nor Laxalt ever intervened in the Las Vegas Sands Corporation case and the matter was later settled after the casino operator agreed to hand over tens of millions of dollars while acknowledging no wrongdoing.
However, the Associated Press reported that the fallout from the surreptitiously recorded conversation has been substantial with Democratic lawmakers in Carson City now eager to get answers about the incident.
For his part, Laxalt, who is set to attend tomorrow’s probe, has denied any wrongdoing and reportedly explained that his actions were simply a component of the job of an attorney general, which “are often time-sensitive”. He has moreover accused his Democratic opponents of engaging in a partisan stunt that is “twisting and politicizing a routine action”.
The news service reported that legislators could impeach Laxalt by obtaining a simple majority vote in the Nevada Assembly, which is controlled by Democratic lawmakers, although a subsequent two-thirds vote would be required in the Nevada State Senate with the liberal contingent in the upper house currently three votes shy of this margin.
“The legislature has an oversight responsibility to investigate and root out anything that undermines the integrity of the gaming industry; the core of Nevada’s economy,” Maggie Carlton, a Democratic member of the Nevada Assembly, told the Associated Press.