First, the online, contribution-funded news site first posted Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett’s affidavit about his secretly recorded conservation with Attorney General Adam Laxalt concerning casino and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson’s request for the gaming board to file an amicus brief in a civil lawsuit asking that certain records be kept confidential.
Now, at 8 a.m., after a columnist in the morning paper called for the recording to be made public, the NVIndy posts the transcript of the recording.
The transcript is a rambling discussion of whether the gaming board should become involved in the civil case by invoking NRS463.120, which makes gaming records confidential. Burnett had turned the recording over to the FBI, who determined Laxalt did nothing criminal.
The NVIndy previously had reported that back in 2008 then-Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, now a U.S. senator, had tried to invoke the confidentiality of records:
In 2008, amid a yearslong legal battle between former Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith and Adelson, who sued Smith over an allegedly defamatory passage in his book, Smith’s lawyers sought to compel the Gaming Control Board to release records relating to Adelson’s gaming license as part of the discovery process. Cortez Masto, on the board’s behalf, opposed the release on the grounds that it would impinge on the board’s ability to thoroughly vet gaming license applicants.
A Review-Journal editorial at the time noted:
As a part of the discovery process while preparing for a scheduled trial in December, Smith’s attorney, Don Campbell, managed to gain access to confidential Gaming Control Board records relating to Adelson’s gaming license. That was a feat of legal skill and audacity accomplished only one other time in history.
Had the case gone to trial, Campbell could have placed those documents in evidence, possibly showing that what Smith had written in his book was substantially correct, even though he admittedly did make a couple of mistakes.
Since the trial has been called off, those records remain confidential.
Campbell said in court that Adelson would have pursued the case “to the end of the Earth” but that since he obtained those gaming records Adelson now “wants to call it off and walk away.”
Adelson now owns the newspaper and Smith resigned after being told he could no longer write anything about anyone who had unsuccessfully sued him.
This case was also raised in the Burnett-Laxalt conversation.
In his affidavit, Burnett said he recorded the conversation with Laxalt because Adelson had reporters follow the judge in the case and he feared he might be monitored by reporters. This too came up in the discussion.
The bottomline is that both men were trying to cover their asses.
Adelson eventually settled the lawsuit.