Beers' April fools joke draws legal threat from Gibbons

Jim Gibbons decided this week not to let Bob Beers' April Fools' Day joke drop. His attorney Michael Pagni sent the Beers camp a letter threatening legal action, charging the phony press release violates the Nevada Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

Rep. Gibbons and State Senator Beers are two of the Republican candidates for governor. The phony press release issued April 1 bears the Gibbons campaign logo and states that Gibbons has reversed himself and decided to support the Tax and Spending Cap amendment authored by Beers. It contains a series of outrageous quotes attributed to Gibbons, teasing him for his stands on several issues where the two disagree.

Only one of the media outlets and others who received the release took it seriously. A weekend news crew at KRNV Channel 4 in Reno used it as legitimate news.

Pagni's letter demands a retraction, citing the state law banning campaign material "which misrepresents, distorts or otherwise falsifies facts."

It also states that members of the media and voting public "have expressed strong concern over the Beers committee's misrepresentation."

"While we understand the Beers committee has since indicated the press release was intended as an April Fools' prank, nothing on the press release itself indicated such and it continues to cause confusion and concern," the letter states.

The release, however, states that it was "Paid for by the Committee to Elect Bob Beers."

Beers campaign spokesman Craig Mueller responded with a letter of his own saying the release was "obviously a means to communicate political satire that is protected by the First Amendment."

"I think the public can figure out that the press release on April Fools' Day was political hyperbole."

It points out the press release poked fun at Gibbons' refusal to debate Beers, on his position on TASC, and what Mueller referred to as Gibbons' "solicitous stand against sexual predators."

"This is so insipid and safe as to be worthy of ridicule. Hence the warm puppies comment."

That was a reference to the phony quote attributed to Gibbons in the release which says: "I'm for TASC, Bob's for TASC. I'm against sexual predators, Bob's against sexual predators. I like puppies, Bob likes puppies. So what's there to discuss. I say let's discuss it."

"Out of curiosity, who is in support of sexual predators?" the Mueller letter asks.

Gibbons campaign manager Robert Uithoven said Beers signed the state's Code of Fair Campaign Practices and he believes the phony press release violates that code.

"If not illegal, it was certainly inappropriate," he said.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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