Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2014

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STATE GOVERNMENT:

Krolicki’s strange strategy gets result

Announcing his possible indictment, he gets media to tell his side of story first

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, looking somber in the old Supreme Court room, announced his pending indictment by a Clark County Grand Jury.

It was a curious moment in the Capitol. Think of a citizen going in front of the media to announce his pending arrest for robbing a bank. Political observers said it was a first in recent history — a Nevada politician announcing his own legal trouble.

No chasing the official down the hall for a statement. No cameras camped on the lawn, or news release from the state attorney general’s office.

Instead, it was Krolicki, the former state treasurer, gathering the media and going on the offensive.

He blasted Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, and intimated he saw the hand of powerful U.S. Senator Harry Reid.

He decried the secrecy of the grand jury process.

And in this opening move in a chess match for his political future, he won.

Reporters were left without a real sense of what the indictment would be about. Krolicki suggested he believed it had to do with a Legislative Counsel Bureau audit released in May 2007. The audit found he had overspent on marketing and attorney fees while managing the college savings program, which he ran from 2001 to 2006.

If that is the case, the allegations would largely be old news.

So the coverage instead focused on the accusations by Krolicki, a Republican, that the matter was a “partisan witch hunt” by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat. He suggested that Sen. Harry Reid was behind the investigation.

“All Democratic partisan roads lead to Harry Reid,” Krolicki said when asked if he thought there had been a conversation between Masto and Reid. “Reid has a long reach across the country.”

Krolicki had just weeks ago publicly announced he was considering challenging Reid in 2010.

Asked whether he had announced his interest in the Senate seat so he could establish a motive for why the grand jury was partisan, he said no.

The attorney general’s office began presenting evidence Tuesday before a county grand jury in Las Vegas in its investigation of Krolicki. Chief Deputy Attorney General Conrad Hafen was presented the case at the Regional Justice Center. An indictment could come as early as Dec. 2.

The grand jury investigation, and possibility of indictment, had been long rumored in the Capitol. But Krolicki and his attorneys tried to say they were caught unaware when they were sent a letter on Friday from the attorney general’s office announcing it would seek an indictment of him.

Reid denied speaking with Masto about the investigation. (Reid has not been shy about offering advice to other Democratic elected leaders, according to sources.)

Masto, meanwhile, was handcuffed by the law, which prevented her from talking about a grand jury investigation unless or until a jury hands up an indictment to a judge.

To be sure, though Krolicki won the first day’s news cycle (Review Journal headline: “ ‘PARTISAN ENTERPRISE’: Krolicki blames Reid for inquiry”) this is far from good news for him.

Coming out now and announcing his possible indictment means he and his attorneys believe this is virtually a done deal. One of his attorneys, Kent Robison, said, “The old saying goes that a good prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich.”

Even if he is found not guilty, the stench of an indictment is a tough one for a politician to remove from the public’s mind. And, if convicted, he would have to leave office.

But if Krolicki somehow survives, it would appear his political instincts will serve him well.

Sun reporter Jeff German contributed to this story.

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