AG change: Ford to continue key Laxalt initiatives |

AG change: Ford to continue key Laxalt initiatives

Michelle L. Price
Associated Press
Nevada's incoming Democratic Attorney General Aaron, right, listens as outgoing Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt speaks attend a news conference, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s outgoing Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt and his Democratic successor Aaron Ford said Monday that despite their partisan differences on issues like the Obama health law, most of the office’s work is apolitical and the transition between their administrations will be smooth.

“On some issues, to be sure, you’re going to see a shift in focus, but as a general matter, people are going to be able to see that our focus in this office is on representing Nevadans on things that are important to them,” Ford said.

“Ninety-nine percent of what we do is nonpartisan,” Laxalt said.

The two spoke to reporters at Laxalt’s office in Las Vegas on Monday.

Laxalt, who was elected in 2014, lost a race this November for governor to Democrat Steve Sisolak, whose party swept almost all statewide offices in Nevada, including the attorney general’s office.

Despite the pledge of a smooth changeover, one of the biggest differences between their administrations may be their approach to a 2016 voter-approved gun background check law targeting private, unlicensed sellers.

Laxalt and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval both opposed the law and after it was passed narrowly two years ago said it could not be implemented because it required the FBI to enforce the law.

Ford, a lawyer and the outgoing state Senate majority leader, says finding a way to implement the law by working with the FBI and state Legislature is one of his first priorities.

Another change will be their approach to former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Ford and Sisolak announced over the weekend that they will join other states appealing a federal judge’s ruling in Texas that the Obama health law is unconstitutional.

Laxalt opposed the law and his office did not join other states in defending the law in prior court challenges, something Ford criticized him for during his campaign.

The two were friendly Monday and did not offer critical comments of their differing policies.

Ford said he planned to continue programs that Laxalt cited as key achievements — including work to combat fraud and exploitation of senior citizens and the establishment of an office set up to provide legal assistance free of charge for members of the military and veterans.

Laxalt also cited his office’s work to cut a backlog of 8,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits, something he said Ford helped to fund from his role in the Legislature.

Laxalt did not offer details about what his next move might be, saying that he is focused on providing a smooth changeover for Ford and looks forward to spending time with his family.