Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto fired back Friday at Gov. Jim Gibbons, saying while he may be consumed by the legalities of federal health reform, her office has been busy with other matters - including defending him in a number of cases.
"It appears from your letter that the health care reform legislation has been the main focus for your office since last December," Masto wrote in response to the governor. "Well, that has not been mine."
She listed a string of cases in which her office is representing the governor or his office, including a recent state Supreme Court argument over e-mails sent by the governor from a state-owned computer, defending him in a federal civil lawsuit filed by a woman fired from Gibbons' office.
Her letter was the latest in a very public spat over Gibbons' demand that Masto decide by Monday whether she will join at least 14 other states in suing the federal government over health reform signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama.
Masto has said her office would conduct a "thorough legal analysis" before deciding whether legal action would be taken. That sparked an angry reply from Gibbons, who on Thursday released a scathing letter criticizing other work by the attorney general's office and calling the issues in the health reform legislation "second year law school analysis."
Gibbons and other critics of the law argue unfunded mandates will cost Nevada taxpayers and that it is unconstitutional because it requires people to buy health insurance.
Masto questioned the governor's implied urgency for Nevada to bring suit.
"The lawsuits that you refer to in your letter are already moving through the courts and any final outcome will have the same impact on Nevada with or without our involvement," she wrote, adding that if he believes Nevada has any "unique" interests he should share them with her office.
She also expressed a weariness of the public bickering.
"I hope you can agree that, instead of writing letters to one another, our time can be better spent working to find solutions to the issues that have an immediate impact on the lives of Nevadans, such as mortgage foreclosure fraud, unemployment, and education funding to name a few," she said.
"And by the way, the phone does ring in my office."