(Jim Clark) – “Something’s rotten in Denmark” – Hamlet.
I have researched the filing of and dismissal of the criminal case against Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and have concluded that Hamlet would say the same thing about Nevada.
The facts are fairly straightforward. As Nevada Treasurer Krolicki initiated a state sponsored fund allowing Nevadans to save for their kids’ college education under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. To publicize this opportunity Krolicki used a portion of the earnings to pay for TV ads inviting Nevadans to sign up. The program and the ads have been wildly successful having gone from zero to over $2.4 billions.
The promotional funds were not taxpayer monies and there was no clear law on the subject so Krolicki sought advice of the Nevada Attorney General’s office before contracting for the ads. A subsequent audit showed that the legislature did not specifically approve the expenditures but that no money whatsoever was missing.
There came a time when Krolicki publicly expressed an interest in running against Harry Reid for the senate in 2010. How would Harry Reid have regarded this? Well, let’s see, Krolicki first ran for statewide office in 1998 garnering 62% of the vote as candidate for treasurer. In 2002 he was handily reelected defeating his Democratic opponent 55% to 33%. In 2006 he was elected lt. governor defeating the Democratic candidate 53% to 39%. A graduate of Stanford University Krolicki left a lucrative career in finance to dedicate himself to public service. He received national recognition for his performance as state treasurer, having been the driving influence in Nevada’s Millennium Scholarship Plan and the Nevada Prepaid College Education Plan, all the while managing Nevada’s $3.1 billions in investments. Hmmmm. This guy could give Reid trouble.
The evidence gets circumstantial at this point but about a year ago Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto convened a Clark County grand jury and in secret proceedings got them to indict Krolicki for unauthorized college savings plan expenditures, despite the fact that attorneys from her office had previously signed off on the outlays. This hit the media and donations to Krolicki’s senate campaign dried up.
The indictment went through several judges, some recusing themselves because of the possibility or conflict of interest. Krolicki’s lawyers claimed that Masto should not be allowed to pursue the prosecution because the evidence showed that attorneys in her office had advised Krolicki the expenditures were OK. At one point Masto appropriated over $400,000 to pay for independent counsel to pursue the indictment but another change in judges ameliorated that conflict of interest problem.
Then, just a couple of weeks ago, Masto “suddenly discovered” that her husband was organizing a fundraising party for a Democratic candidate planning to file for lt. governor against Krolicki. Masto again offered to turn the prosecution over to an independent prosecutor. Before that offer could be ruled on Clark County Judge Valerie Adair dismissed the case because the indictment was too vague to set forth a crime.
One thing you learn early in law school is that criminal charges must be drawn precisely or they will be held unconstitutional. That’s what happened here. So Lt. Gov. Krolicki has had to endure the “year from hell” trying to defend against phony and inarticulate charges, a year which has certainly blown his plans to run for senate.
Was Harry Reid pulling Masto’s strings to get her to engage in this travesty? Was Masto trying to muddy Krolicki’s image so her husband’s friend could succeed him as lt. governor? Maybe both?
All I know is, like Denmark, something’s rotten in Nevada.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)