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April 18, 2014

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She’s back, lawsuit in hand

Chrissy Mazzeo returns as Gov. Gibbons’ public image has plummeted

Image

Sam Morris

Chrissy Mazzeo, who accused then-gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons of assaulting her two years ago, held a news conference with a new attorney this week to announce a lawsuit against the now-governor over the same incident.

Saws, bevel squares, compasses, screwdrivers, awls ...

Exhibit photos in Mazzeo case

Chrissy Mazzeo Launch slideshow »

The lawyer’s office looked different this time, because it was a different lawyer in a different office with different decorations: a woodworker’s tool chests, brace and bit hand drills, and more antique planes than law books ...

But then came the familiar: Chrissy Mazzeo, two years after accusing the Republican candidate for governor of, after a night of drinks with her at a nearby seafood restaurant, sexually assaulting her in a parking garage on a rainy night.

He said she stumbled and he gallantly tried to keep her from falling.

It was three weeks before the election, everyone went nuts and investigations went nowhere. Jim Gibbons got elected. Chrissy Mazzeo couldn’t find work and left the state.

Now she’s back, holding a news conference and not just accusing but also suing the governor — and his political guru, his high-powered lawyer and the ex-sheriff.

She had to find a new lawyer, for starters. “Oh, I tried to get all kinds of attorneys,” she says.

“People are afraid of power,” Robert Kossack, her new attorney says, here in his West Sahara Avenue office surrounded by the media and the antique tools (except chisels) used in the shaping of wood.

At the moment, Kossack is trying to shape something else: public opinion. In that arena, the governor has not aged well. After he cruised to an easy victory in 2006, his fortunes have fallen.

In public life, just 27 percent of polled Nevadans think he’s good at his job.

In private life, maritally speaking, his approval rating is down, too. Dawn, the governor’s wife, wants a divorce and asked for one in a vitriolic filing that not only accused her husband of adultery but also of committing it with a woman who bears a “striking resemblance” to Chrissy Mazzeo.

The governor was later embarrassed when it was revealed that he had sent hundreds of text messages to the woman mentioned in the divorce papers.

Gibbons was later seen with a different woman still, this one a former Playboy model, whom Gibbons was photographed embracing in a parking lot. He said he was holding her, gallantly, because she feared she was having a heart attack.

Way back when, at one of those excruciating news conferences that sometimes happen in political marriages, Dawn stood beside Jim against Mazzeo’s charges.

Mazzeo’s new attorney says he plans to depose Dawn Gibbons. She may be less supportive of her husband this time.

Who knows whether Nevadans are in the mood for a second airing of this scandal. Last time it brought shame upon the state, or as one national political blog cried: “Nevada: Land of Scum.”

In the law office, Kossack has the trappings of another hobby. He has a selection of geologist’s hammers, gemstones and fossils.

Sometimes all a relic of the past needs is for someone to pick it up and polish it.

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