RENO — Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz called on state Attorney General Adam Laxalt this week to either end his campaign for governor or resign as the state’s top prosecutor.
The attorney general has shown he cannot separate his official duties and his campaign, said Schwartz, who is Laxalt’s opponent in the Republican primary election.
Laxalt’s campaign spokesman Andy Matthews called Schwartz’s efforts a “laughable political stunt from someone who has been unable to gain traction after campaigning for months” in a statement issued Friday.
Laxalt came under fire after the Reno Gazette-Journal published an audio recording last week, where Laxalt is heard suggesting his staffers help beat back a news story critical of him for casting the lone dissenting vote in the pardon of a convicted murderer.
The recording seems to be of a phone call between Laxalt and attorney general’s office spokeswoman Monica Moazez. It was recorded by a fellow passenger on a November flight with the attorney general.
The recording suggests he has used his state staff for political purposes.
Nevada law prohibits politicking on the public dime.
“There’s a real integrity question here, and it’s focused on (Laxalt’s) ability to separate his state office from his political ambitions,” Schwartz said.
State officials have not made any formal complaints or taken any official action against Laxalt after the allegations.
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Schwartz also cited three moves by Laxalt this year tied with big campaign contributions.
Schwartz considers Laxalt’s vote on the pardon case and his request to state Gaming Control Chairman A.G. Burnett to get involved in a lawsuit between Las Vegas Sands and a former employee to be an “enormous conflict of interest.” A third instance he referred to was Laxalt urging Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve not to pursue a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies after taking a $7,500 campaign donation from drug manufacturer Pfizer.
Las Vegas Sands companies donated $30,000 to his 2014 campaign for attorney general, according to campaign finance reports.
That same campaign also received a $25,000 contribution by Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.