Gibbons says he did nothing ‘inappropriate’
October 19, 2006
LAS VEGAS – Clenching his wife’s hand, a Republican Nevada congressman running for governor on Thursday repeated denials that he had assaulted and propositioned a casino cocktail waitress after a night out with campaign donors.
“I did nothing wrong last Friday. I did not act inappropriately with anyone,” U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons said a day after police released reports detailing events that ended in three 911 calls and an assault allegation against him three weeks before Election Day.
“I’m a happily married man, a father and a grandfather. My reputation means everything to me,” he said at a brief news conference. He wouldn’t take any questions from reporters.
Chrissy Mazzeo, 32, told police that the 61-year-old congressman grabbed her arms, pushed her up against a wall and propositioned her in a parking garage near a bar where the two had met earlier in the night.
Mazzeo said she swore at Gibbons, ran away and called police for help. The next day, Mazzeo chose not to pursue the matter, saying she did not want to start a media circus. But she didn’t recant her initial accusations.
Gibbons, a five-term congressman from Reno, repeated his account of the events, saying he offered to walk Mazzeo to a parking ramp in the direction of the hotel where he was staying. As they approached the structure he caught Mazzeo as she tripped, he said.
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“I asked her if she was alright. She looked at me, said nothing and simply walked away,” Gibbons said, reading from a statement. “I turned and proceeded to my hotel.”
Gibbons, a former combat pilot, said he was floored by the allegations.
“As a nearly 30-year member of our nation’s military I try to conduct myself as an officer and a gentlemen,” he said.
Gibbons’ wife of 20 years, former state Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, did not comment at the news conference.
Reached Thursday, Mazzeo, a single mother and cocktail waitress at the Wynn Las Vegas, referred questions to Richard Wright, a prominent Las Vegas attorney. Wright declined to comment.
“I have a baby,” Mazzeo said. “(My lawyer) told me not to say anything.”
Gibbons said his attorney, Don Campbell, advised him not to speculate why Mazzeo would have lodged what he described as an “absolutely false” allegation. Campbell then tried to cast doubt on the reliability of Mazzeo’s account.
“Would any of you rely on such incoherent and inconsistent allegations if they had been made about your husband, or your father or your grandfather? I respectfully suggest that none of you would do so,” Campbell told reporters.
Mazzeo and Gibbons both told police they had been drinking. Mazzeo sounds confused and out of breath in a recording of her call to police.
Eyewitness accounts gathered by police early Saturday described a busy, at times raucous, scene at McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant bar where Gibbons, his adviser Sig Rogich, Mazzeo and three other women were drinking. A restaurant employee told police the atmosphere at Gibbons’ table was “flirty.” Gibbons told police the scene was loud and that other patrons had made jokes about selling photos of the congressman and the women to the tabloids.
Gibbons tried to counter those accounts Thursday. His campaign distributed affidavits from the other women who sat at the table with the congressman, including Mazzeo’s friend, Pennie Puhek.
“I am not aware of anything inappropriate happening at the table that evening and Mr. Gibbons did not appear to be in any way intoxicated,” Puhek’s statement reads.