Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Next Big Scandal In Nevada

From the Reno Gazette Herald: Some might say it’s just a legal battle between rich, powerful men.
But the court fight ensuing between one of Nevada’s most high-profile lobbyists, Harvey Whittemore, and the owners of the Bay Area’s largest home-building company, Tom Seeno and Albert Seeno Jr., could threaten the network of business, philanthropy and influence that both have worked their entire lives to create.
Competing lawsuits between Whittemore and the Seenos make accusations that could ultimately land someone in prison. They include claims of embezzlement, racketeering and threats of murder and physical violence. If any of the claims prove true, they also could result in the loss of several valuable and coveted licenses — including the gaming license for the casinos run by the Peppermill. The Seenos are minority partners in the gaming empire and are listed on the gaming license.
The Seenos claim Whittemore stole funds from their shared business, the Wingfield Nevada Group. If that claim is true, it could cost Whittemore his license to practice law and curtail his ability to raise funds for philanthropy and political candidates — something he is known for throughout the state, giving big contributions to some of the state’s most politically connected candidates....
On Thursday, FBI agents served subpoenas to Whittemore’s businesses and associates at sites throughout Nevada. They stem from allegations that Whittemore used employees to funnel campaign contributions to candidates. And on Friday, Reid and U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley said they were giving back or donating to charities thousands of dollars in contributions that the Whittemore family had given to their campaigns.
Phil Pattee, assistant bar counsel for the Nevada State Bar Association, said “the matter is under investigation,” but declined to talk further about the claims made against Whittemore.
Whittemore’s lawsuit against the Seenos claims that they used threats of violence and death and hired burly thugs to collect his assets, including jewelry, homes and vehicles.
Whittemore filed a complaint with the Reno Police Department in March 2011, saying he was told by a third party that someone in the Seeno family planned to harm him physically, according to Reno police Lt. Mohammad Rafaqat. But Whittemore said he did not want the police to conduct a criminal investigation, Rafaqat said. Whittemore told the police that he only wanted to document the alleged threats, Rafaqat said.  http://www.rgj.com/article/20120212/NEWS/302120050/Whittemore-Seeno-lawsuits-impact-may-ripple-through-Nevada-gaming-politics?odyssey=tab|topnews|img|FRONTPAGE
The fact that Reid and Berkley are running as fast as they can away from these guys shows that there is something to this mess.  What, I am not sure.  While Dean Heller got some money from these guys, it appears that this is mostly a Democrat scandal and they are throwing their money back to Whittemore.
So, we will see how Jon Ralston and Annjeanette Damon and the other "political" commentators in Nevada will spin this scandal to show that the GOP candidates is more at fault than the Democrats.  These "commentators" will spin this story against the GOP and favor the Dem's because that is what they do- blame Republicans no matter how little the GOP is involved.  That's what these jokers do.
I guess, since this is an off year in Nevada politics, the power brokers will focus on this scandal and write many stories about it.

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