LAS VEGAS (AP) " Nevada's lieutenant governor asked a judge on Monday to disqualify the state attorney general who's prosecuting him on charges of mishandling a big college savings program, and to dismiss the charges.
In a brief filed in Clark County District Court, lawyers for Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto provided legal counsel to him on the college savings program and now is prosecuting him for relying on that legal counsel.
"This prosecution is, therefore, an abomination of due process and the ethical duty of a prosecutor to seek justice," attorney Richard Wright said in the brief, adding that Masto wants the court to believe her deputies who counseled Krolicki were only "glorified proofreaders."
The brief was filed in response to Masto's argument that there's no basis for Krolicki's bid to disqualify her. Masto maintains that what Krolicki's lawyers see as a conflict for her is something that courts have allowed for attorneys general across the country.
Wright maintains that several current and former deputy attorneys general provided Krolicki with legal advice regarding the college savings program when he was serving as state treasurer and overseeing the program, and Krolicki relied on their advice.
A similar argument was made on behalf of Krolicki's chief of staff, Kathryn Besser, who also served as his chief of staff in the treasurer's office. Krolicki served two terms in that office before being elected lieutenant governor in 2006.
Krolicki, indicted in December along with Besser, is charged with two felony counts of misappropriation and falsification of accounts by a public officer, and two felony counts of misappropriation by a treasurer.
Besser is charged being a principal to misappropriation and falsification of accounts and being a principal to misappropriation by a treasurer.
The charges arose from a 2007 audit of a more than $3 billion, state-run college savings program. Auditors found Krolicki skirted budget controls and spent more on an advertising campaign than allotted by the Legislature. No money is missing and he is not accused of embezzlement.
Krolicki, a Republican who has discussed a run against U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said the charges are politically motivated, an accusation Reid and the Democratic attorney general have adamantly denied.