(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – A debate today between Democrat Secretary of State Ross Miller and his Republican opponent Rob Lauer spent most of the time on past controversies, including Lauer’s alleged assault of a woman in a bar and Miller’s track record of prosecution as a Clark County deputy district attorney.
In one of the more fiery debates on the Face To Face television program hosted by Jon Ralston, the discussion started with an ad being run by Miller on Lauer’s alleged attack of a woman in a Las Vegas bar in June of this year. It also touched on an arrest of Lauer involving a business deal.
Lauer complained that the bar incident is being pushed for political reasons, while Miller countered that Lauer is facing misdemeanor charges in the case where he allegedly assaulted longtime Clark County GOP activist Jennifer von Tobel. Von Tobel filed a police report in the matter.
Lauer said he was contacted by an attorney representing Von Tobel seeking money to “make it go away” and that he would not cut a deal. Lauer declined to name the attorney.
Lauer’s arrest in California on a charge of grand theft involving the sale of an aircraft was also discussed.
Lauer said his accuser lied to the police and the charges have been dismissed. Lauer said he now has a case against his accuser for perjury.
“So at what point am I determined to be innocent,” he asked.
Miller acknowledged Lauer has not been convicted of a crime but said the ad is intended to show the differences between himself and his opponent.
“There is a sharp contrast in this race,” he said. “This is a very important position. And we’re treating this as if it was a job interview. And I as a former criminal prosecutor have a background that I’m very proud of. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in this office. And obviously one of the things that I think needs to be highlighted is my opponent’s background.”
For his part, Lauer criticized Miller’s performance in a Clark County criminal case, where he let an “axe murder” out of jail with a plea bargain that was questioned by a judge.
“So his record as a prosecutor, frankly is troubling,” Lauer said.
Miller said the case involved a man named Billy Merritt who had a troubled criminal history. Miller said he inherited a case involving Merritt that was years old and the witnesses to the crime could not be produced. Miller said a plea deal was agreed to by the entire district attorney’s office.
Merritt was the shooter in the infamous “show and tell” case where a man was lured to the desert and killed. After his release from prison Merritt was charged with attempting to kill a man with a hatchet.
It was this case that Miller prosecuted.
“I have an outstanding record as a criminal prosecutor,” Miller said.
Lauer said also he has evidence of voter fraud that has not investigated by Miller.
Miller said he has cracked down on voter fraud against ACORN, a Democratic organization charged with crimes from the 2008 general election. A trial in the case is still pending, which Lauer said is intentional to get the matter postponed until after the Nov. 2 general election.
Lauer said he has evidence of, “a lot of people who are voting who don’t exist and I have a record of that.”
Miller said he will investigate any voter fraud allegations if there is evidence to support such claims but that he won’t chase unfounded claims.
“But we’ll absolutely look into the allegations and if they have merit we’ll go after them,” he said.