The Democrats’ Grand Inquisition of Nevada Attorney General, and likely GOP gubernatorial candidate, Adam Laxalt over “The Burnett Tape” nevertheless revealed some interesting information – at least as it pertains to how the existence of the recordings got leaked in the first place.
As you’ll recall, Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett secretly recorded a conversation he had with Laxalt at a Reno coffee shop in March 2016 related to a pending court case involving a Las Vegas gaming company.
That recording was subsequently sent to the FBI – which ultimately concluded that Laxalt hadn’t said or done anything wrong.
And that was the end of it. Case closed.
Until this February when the existence of the recorded conversation was leaked to liberal “fake news” blogger Sputtering Jon Ralston, who surely saw the story was his Woodward-and-Bernstein moment. Sputtering Jon surely envisioned Laxalt doing the “perp walk” in one of his silly dream sequences.
Anyway, at the legislative hearing on the matter Wednesday night, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer asked Burnett if he knew how the tape’s existence had been leaked.
“I have no idea to this day how it got out,” Burnett replied. “Neither I nor the GCB were pushing this story. We haven’t leaked this story to the press and don’t want it to continue.”
And you know what? I believe him.
Had Burnett or anyone else in the GCB wanted to, they could have and likely would have leaked it a lot earlier.
So if not them, who? The FBI?
Unlikely. It was a nothing investigation in which there clearly was no “there” there. Why would they care? And again, if they wanted to leak the info they surely could have and would have leaked it much sooner.
So if not them, who?
Well, it turns out it wasn’t just the GCB and FBI who knew about the recording.
In fact, Burnett revealed in his sworn affidavit last week that he contacted and consulted with an unidentified “independent counsel” who advised him “to deliver it to the federal authorities for their review.”
Hmm. And unidentified “independent counsel,” huh? The plot thickens.
Then came the bombshell…
During the Democrats’ show trial inquisition, Burnett further revealed that the unidentified “independent counsel” was Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s general counsel, Joe Reynolds!
Hmm. A smoking gun?
Indeed, you gotta wonder why Burnett didn’t mention who this previously unidentified “independent counsel” was in his sworn deposition. What a strange – and convenient – omission.
“Did you know the governor’s counsel was the one who recommended the tape be turned over to the FBI,” Laxalt was asked at one point during the inquisition.
“First I’ve heard of that,” Laxalt responded.
As this sh*t-storm swirled around Carson City over the last several weeks, Sandoval never bothered to tell Laxalt that his own guy knew about the recording from the get-go and was the one who recommended Burnett send it to the feds?
Or was it Sandoval himself who ordered the “code red” by Reynolds?
But why would Sandoval or any of his associates try to harm fellow Republican Laxalt by leaking the story to a liberal blogger? What possible motivation could there be?
And then I remembered this…
Shortly after Laxalt was sworn into office in 2015, his first legal act as attorney general was to join a multi-state lawsuit challenging then-President Barack Obama’s “executive amnesty” program which blocked deportation of certain illegal aliens. And Sandoval was furious.
Later that year, Laxalt again bucked Sandoval by joining with several rural Nevada counties in a lawsuit related to land use rules that would be affected if the sage grouse was added to the endangered species list. Sandoval saw red over that decision, too.
“Gov. Sandoval said Laxalt needs his consent to be part of the lawsuit,” reported Joe Schoenmann on KNPR radio, “while Laxalt said he can go ahead without the governor’s approval.
Clearly there’s at least friction between the two Republicans, and it likely goes much deeper than that.
And the timing of the leak makes sense, too.
At the end of December 2016, Nevada U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, a close Sandoval ally, announced he wouldn’t be running for governor in 2018.
Ten days later, Sandoval’s lieutenant governor, Mark Hutchison announced that he, too, would not be running for governor in 2018.
It was widely became known at the time that Laxalt intended to run and appeared to have scared Sandoval’s favored allies out of the race.
Then, lo and behold, a couple weeks later the existence of the Burnett Tape gets leaked to a Sputtering Jon, who has served for seven years as Sandoval’s unofficial press secretary, chief apologist and public relations flak.
As one wag put it on Twitter, one can imagine Gov. Sandoval being grilled by Tom Cruise (played by Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson) about the leak and being asked if he ordered the Code Red to teach Laxalt a lesson…
“You’re g-damned right I did!”
Of course, this is all speculation. Absent a court order, no one is going to admit leaking this information to the media and the Democrats. And Sputtering Jon certainly ain’t about to give up his source.
But it sure does make sense, doesn’t it?
Then again, maybe it was the Russians!
Yeah, that’s the ticket.