Republican Attorney General candidate Wes Duncan said Wednesday the attacks on himself and Attorney General Adam Laxalt over the endoresement by Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro are purely political.
He said the Attorney General’s office has an ongoing criminal investigation of Antinoro’s alleged sexual misconduct that clearly prevents Laxalt from discussing the case.
Likewise, he said if he wins the office and that investigation is still under way when he takes office, anything he said about it would immediately be seized upon as bias by Antinoro supporters.
“As soon as the results of that investigation come to light, I’ll make a determination,” he said adding if charges are eventually brought, he doesn’t want to give the defense any leverage.
Antinoro faces allegations of sexual misconduct and assault by more than one woman. Those charges were the reason behind the failed recall election to remove him as Storey sheriff.
Duncan also weighed in on the ongoing accusations Laxalt is deliberately refusing to enforce the will of the voters who passed an initiative mandating FBI background checks for gun buyers.
He said it’s a “technical problem in terms of the way the language was drafted.”
Under federal law, he said the FBI can’t perform those background checks because Nevada is one of 13 “point of contact” states. He said that means Nevada manages background checks itself instead of through the FBI.
He said the cure is legislative action to order the state Criminal History Repository to do those background checks but Nevada lawmakers can’t modify the voter-approved statute for three years after it was passed. That means the language is etched in stone until the 2021 Legislature unless a special session is called.
As for his opinion, Duncan said: “I don’t want guns in the hands of prior felons, domestic abusers or anyone who has any kind of mental health problems.”
He said legislative action would actually improve the background checks because, unlike an FBI check that only examines federal criminal histories, the state repository could consider state records, local records and mental health records to produce a much more thorough background check on gun buyers.
Along those lines, he said as Attorney General, he would like to “tackle meaningfully domestic violence in this state.” He said Nevada has the second worst record in the nation for men killing women.
“We have to figure out ways to create more transitional housing for women and some men who find themselves in extremely violent situations,” Duncan said.
He said as AG, he would consider using some settlement funds to help create those options, partnering with profit, non-profit and the faith community.
And like the mental health teams, he said he would support having victim advocates work with law enforcement on domestic violence cases, even having them accompany deputies and police on calls.
He said he’s examining the existing laws on the subject and talking with police and district attorneys to see how the statutes can be improved.
He said the AG should also have a role in helping, particularly rural counties with limited resources, train law enforcement on how to better respond to domestic violence calls.
But he said the office should also provide those counties other training.
“We hear some of our frontier and rural counties would love to see training on traffic affidavits, search warrants,” he said.
Duncan said the same is needed in responding to officer involved shootings and other situations.
He said the role of the Attorney General has changed in recent years and he views the job as more professional than political.
“We live in complicated times in terms of the criminal justice system,” he said. “My goal is to be proactive on these issues and work hand-in-glove with law enforcement.”