(Brian Krolicki) – The Las Vegas Sun’s Dec. 16 editorial (“Where’s the outrage?”) may have generated a little emotion but certainly didn’t lead readers to “outrage” based on the facts. The depiction of Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto as somehow being valiant in her prosecution of me for activities I undertook while administering the College Savings Program as state treasurer is bizarre, counter to the facts and in conflict with nearly every unbiased news account.
There should be “outrage” that the attorney general wasted taxpayers’ money embarking on a yearlong effort to ruin me politically. Two District Court judges in Clark County issued opinions admonishing the attorney general for her handling of this case — rulings that reflect a failure to enforce the law competently or impartially.
Judge Valerie Adair’s decision to dismiss this case outright was based on the fact the attorney general failed to even “specify which funds were utilized, the accounts which were used, or the transactions at issue. The indictment (also) fails to specify the duty that was allegedly violated.” The inability of the attorney general’s office to include even the most basic facts to support its indictment clearly demonstrates that this case should never have been filed.
Previously, Judge Elissa Cadish ruled that the attorney general had an insurmountable conflict of interest in this prosecution and ordered her removed from the case. This order was based upon the glaring fact that the attorney general’s office itself had negotiated and approved contracts controlling these programs, and was essentially prosecuting me for actions it had approved. This egregious conduct by the attorney general should be the source of the “outrage” articulated in the Sun’s editorial.
When this ordeal began 33 months ago, I firmly announced that I was “the most comfortable man in the room” because I knew that our staff and the contractors properly administered the program. From its inception in 2001, the College Saving Program was intended to be self-funded and operate without a penny of taxpayer funds. We worked closely with deputy attorneys general and outside attorneys to comply with the laws governing this program.
Nevada Revised Statutes 353B created the College Savings Trust Fund and specifically granted the state treasurer the right to manage the Trust Fund and pursue contractual relationships to administer and market the program. The attorney general’s office and the state Board of Examiners, comprised of the governor, the attorney general and the secretary of state, approved each and every contract.
The result: Nevada’s College Savings Plan ranked in the top 10 of all programs nationwide, with assets over $3 billion, generated sufficient earnings to cover all its expenses, and supplemented the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program. This program will endure for many years, and its success is a testament to the many individuals who helped create it. By law, excess funds could only be used to support college savings programs. The attorney general’s claims that the funds could have been used for other purposes are incorrect and exemplify one of the many flaws upon which the prosecution was based.
The actions of the attorney general could not withstand the scrutiny of the most preliminary of judicial rulings. In disregard of its ethical duty to fairly seek justice, the attorney general’s office misused both the criminal justice system and media to malign my reputation. It is the abuse of prosecutorial authority that is an “outrage.”
(Brian Krolicki, a Republican, is lieutenant governor of Nevada)