Nevada AG Adam Laxalt getting national exposure in immigration clash

Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt, on the job less than two months, is getting some national exposure this week.

The Republican was invited to testify this Wednesday before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on a hearing to examine “the unconstitutionality of President Obama’s executive overreach on immigration.”

On Jan. 26, Nevada became the 26th state to join a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s executive order he signed Nov. 10 after the election to protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president said he acted within his authority because Congress hasn’t been able to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Laxalt’s action to join the lawsuit caused a stir in Nevada because he didn’t personally inform GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval ahead of time, although the attorney general’s staff did tell the governor’s staff. Laxalt has the legal authority as attorney general to independently file such lawsuits, however.

The two men later met to discuss the case. Afterward, Sandoval said he maintains the better path would be to work on a legislative solution instead of going to court.

Laxalt, however, said he’s fulfilling a campaign pledge to fight federal overreach at every turn.

“If President Obama wants to change the laws of the United States, there is a clear constitutional means of doing so: he can work with Congress to pass new legislation,” Laxalt said in announcing his role in the hearing. “However, as Supreme Court precedent makes clear, the president cannot simply change the law by an executive command.”

In his congressional testimony, Laxalt plans to “focus on the states’ role in ensuring executive branch compliance with this country’s laws and its Constitution,” his office said in announcing he’ll take part in the hearing.

“I am honored to be invited to this hearing, and appreciate the oversight role that the House Judiciary Committee plays,” Laxalt said in a statement. “This lawsuit is ultimately about the rule of law, not immigration, and the need for all branches of our government, including the president, to faithfully follow the law.”

— Laura Myers

DIFFERENT KIND OF SOCCER

Las Vegas City Manager Betsy Fretwell is going to have her hands full over the next few weeks.

An unsuspecting Fretwell on Wednesday found herself in the middle of an impromptu, rapidly escalating arms race over spending records related to the city’s push for a much-ballyhooed $200 million downtown soccer stadium. A deal to spend $56 million in public funds on that stadium fell apart after Major League Soccer announced it would not be sending a team to Las Vegas before 2018.

Records detailing stadium-related city expenditures in the run-up to the deal’s failure were first requested by stadium subsidy foe and Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony. They include but are not limited to planning funds paid to the stadium’s would-be developer, fees paid to at least three separate stadium consultants and city-paid travel expenses used to fly City Council members to New York and sell MLS on bringing a team to Las Vegas.

Anthony, now more than a month into an uphill battle for mayor and stadium supporter Carolyn Goodman’s seat, said the records are needed to tell the public how much was spent on the snake-bit effort. He expects Fretwell to have them ready for City Council consideration by March 4.

Not to be outdone, Councilman Bob Coffin asked Fretwell for all records related to every publicly subsidized city project dating back for more than a decade.

“That would include all the established structures that are in Symphony Park, or outside Symphony Park, as well as all the (redevelopment agency) funds,” Coffin said. “It’s all the principle of (spending) public money to support private business — our attempt to grow the city of Las Vegas.”

Coffin, a stadium supporter up for re-election against a pair of vocal stadium subsidy foes in June, said he expects Fretwell won’t release Anthony’s records unless and until her staff is also able to compile and release his request.

Fretwell told Anthony and Coffin she’d do her level best to put those reports together, but couldn’t promise to have them ready before March 18 — three days before the start of early voting for an April 7 municipal primary election.

She declined further comment on the matter Friday.

— James DeHaven

LAWMAKER ON THE MEND

State Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, received some good news this past week as she recovers from surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Smith was discharged from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston on Feb. 16 but is remaining in Texas for follow-up treatment.

Smith said she is feeling good and is paying close attention to Senate business. Her family reports that they cannot keep her cellphone out of her hands. Smith and her family thanked the many people who have showered them with support over the past few weeks. Smith was awake, talking and eating on Feb. 7, one day after undergoing the surgery.

Smith announced early in February that she was seeking expert medical treatment out of state and would miss opening day of the 2015 legislative session that began Feb. 2. She was elected to the Senate in 2012 and serves as assistant minority leader.

Smith plans to return to the Legislature when she is able.

— Sean Whaley

PASTRY GUNS

Students who nibble pastries into the shape of a firearm or bring tiny toy guns to school would not face discipline under a bill to be considered Monday by the Assembly Education Committee.

Assembly Bill 121, the so-called “Pop Tart” bill, is sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Wheeler of Gardnerville and other Republican lawmakers. It’s a response to a 2013 case in Maryland, where a second-grader was suspended from school after chewing a pastry into the shape of gun.

The Nevada bill also would prohibit students from being disciplined for simulating a firearm, wearing clothing or accessories depicting a weapon, or having a toy gun no bigger than 2 inches in length.

— Sandra Chereb

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Contact James DeHaven atjdehaven@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3839. Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

AG Laxalt appoints Patty Cafferata as communications director

adam_laxaltAttorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced today the appointment of Patty Cafferata as the Communications Director for his office.patty_cafferata_img_php

“As a life-long Nevadan and former statewide public office holder, I am pleased Cafferata is joining my team,” said Laxalt. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the office.”

A graduate of Southwestern School of Law, Cafferata, is a former Assemblywoman, State Treasurer, District Attorney of Lincoln, Lander and Esmeralda counties. She is also the former Executive Director of the Nevada Commission on Ethics. Cafferata writes a bi-monthly column in the Reno-Gazette Journal that covers Nevada History.

“She knows Nevada, its people and their concerns, and will be an asset to my office and the people of the state,” Laxalt continued.

“I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to working for Attorney General Laxalt and the state,” Cafferata said.

Cafferata will begin work on February 2, 2015, and will be based in the Carson City office. Cafferata may be reached at 775-843-8439 or by email at PCafferata@ag.nv.gov

New AG Laxalt plans law enforcement summit

CARSON CITY — Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt will host a law enforcement summit next month as his first major initiative as Nevada’s new chief legal officer.

The summit is scheduled for Feb. 5 at the attorney general’s office in Carson City with video conferencing to the Las Vegas office.

An agency spokeswoman said a “portion” of the event will be open to the news media.

Laxalt, who was sworn in as Nevada’s newest attorney general on Monday, has invited sheriffs, chiefs, and district attorneys from Nevada’s 17 counties to address important issues in their respective communities.

“Law enforcement leaders across the state have been asked for their participation and input at the summit,” Laxalt said. “Our priority is to identify and discuss crime trends and other issues to find ways to collaborate across counties in order to make the Silver State a safer place for Nevada’s families.”

The summit will focus on how Nevada law enforcement can more quickly and effectively address emerging criminal trends such as illegal drugs, violent crime, domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking.

“The opportunity to collaborate with different representatives of law enforcement and share approaches to fighting crime should greatly benefit our individual counties and the state as a whole,” said newly elected Washoe County District Attorney Christopher Hicks. “I am excited to participate.”