Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On Harvey Whittemore (& Heidi Gansert)... & A Way to Shut Down That Merry-go-round

Yesterday, Harvey Whittemore was denied a motion to drop his charges. Wait, what? Who?

Remember Harvey Whittemore? He was once at the top of Nevada's political ladder. He was the "preeminent juice man". And then, all of a sudden, his house of cards started tumbling down. His planned mega-development at Coyote Springs fell apart when last decade's "Real Estate Bubble" burst. His business partners then turned on him. And now, he will indeed go to trial on corruption charges.

A federal judge has denied motions by a former Nevada political powerbroker to dismiss charges alleging he used his family and employees to make illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks on Tuesday denied four motions filed by Harvey Whittemore seeking dismissal of the government's case.

Whittemore was indicted June 6 by a federal grand jury on four counts stemming from campaign contributions made in 2007 to Reid.

Of course, the usual suspects will try to spin this all sorts of ways. So let's first clear this up: Harvey Whittimore was an opportunistic and bipartisan "juice man". He once had close ties to Harry Reid, Dean Heller, and a whole host of politicians at all levels of government across the state. He was only abandoned when the FBI began investigating him.

As we've discussed before, this is the tactic often used to deflect from the real pursuit of real solutions to this ongoing problem of corruption in Nevada Government. It's easy to just blame a politician who once received campaign contributions. It's much riskier to actually propose shutting down the ongoing "Merry-go-round of Corruption".

So what can be done? Secretary of State Ross Miller has offered SB 49 for better campaign finance reporting. State Senator Justin Jones (D-Enterprise) has offered SB 203 as a companion bill, as it calls for lobbyists to file quarterly reports. These bills at least allow for more transparency.

However, there's another step we can take to curb corruption. We've discussed it before. And we need to bring it up again now.

We will only experience more of these embarrassing corruption scandals if we fail to address the root of this problem. That's why we eventually need real, serious dialogue on clean money. With clean money (or public financing of campaigns), we can finally have clean elections. And with clean elections, our elected officials are no longer beholden to shady "juice men" and conniving corporate lobbyists.

So before we hear any pundits and politicians restart the blame game on this and/or any future corruption scandals to emerge, we should dare them to offer a solution. Are they ready to bring clean money & clean elections to Nevada? If not, and if they don't like the concept of public financing, what is their solution?

We don't have to continue riding this merry-go-round. We can stop it... If we want to.


Ha! That didn't take long. Nevada's next great corruption scandal is now here. Thanks, Heidi Gansert!

A former Democratic Party chairman has filed a complaint alleging former GOP Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert illegally kept campaign funds, then funneled them to a PAC she controlled and then disbursed the money.

The complaint, field today by ex-Washoe Democratic Party Chairman Chris Wicker, alleges Gansert kept more than $100,000 in unpsent campaign contributions after she left office in November 2010. (She later served as Gov. Brian Sandoval's chief of staff.)

Then, in October 2011, Gansert gave most of her unspent cash -- about $74,000 -- to a PAC called Nevada First, which was controlled by....Heidi Gansert.

Wicker, who is still a spokesman for the Washoe party, sent his complaint to the secretary of state's election integrity task force, saying Gansert took too long to dispose of the money and then chose a vehicle disallowed by the law.

Surprise! Heidi Gansert raised a ton of money in her last campaign. Yet when she left the Assembly to become Governor Brian Sandoval's Chief of Staff, she didn't leave that ton of money behind. Rather, she moved that money into her own PAC, then spent it on her favored candidates... Who were, of course, Nevada Republicans like Senator Greg Brower (R-Reno) and Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey (R-Reno).

Just who is actually surprised by this crap? Again, we see this all the time. So when will we actually do something about it? I wonder what supposed "corruption fighter" Pat Hickey has to say about this.

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