Failed Nevada AG candidate says campaign probe being dragged out
Failed Nevada attorney general candidate John Hunt is accusing Secretary of State Dean Heller of dragging out an investigation of allegations that he broke campaign laws.
Hunt, a Democrat who lost the election to Republican Brian Sandoval, said the unresolved status of the investigation “smells of politics.”
Heller started the investigation in September, after Sandoval campaign chief Peter Ernaut complained that Vestin Group chief Michael Shustek secretly funneled $158,500 to the Hunt campaign through other people.
Heller and Ernaut are both Republicans.
Sandoval, 39, a candidate seen by political strategists as a possible future candidate for governor, won a combative and costly race that featured nasty campaign ads focusing on Hunt’s campaign contributions.
Ernaut asked if Las Vegas-based Vestin Group’s workers received raises or bonuses to cover their contributions or if they helped Shustek circumvent contribution limits.
Susan Bilyeu, deputy secretary of state for elections, told the Las Vegas Sun that 33 people, including Shustek, denied any misconduct. She said seven other people have not responded to letters about the contributions to Hunt.
Bilyeu said the investigation won’t be complete until she gets replies from the seven, and said she may ask the state Division of Investigations follow up.
Nevada law bans political contributions in the name of another person and prohibits a candidate from knowingly accepting a contribution from another person.
Hunt said the allegation provided a political advantage to Sandoval, but that no evidence was ever provided to back up Ernaut’s claim.
He said his supporters have been falsely accused.