Las Vegas Sun

July 2, 2015

Currently: 81° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

J. Patrick Coolican:

Forget Congress, John Oceguera can call himself a lobbyist now


AP Photo/Cathleen Allison

Lobbyist Carole Vilardo talks with Nevada Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, late Monday night, June 6, 2011, at the Legislature in Carson City as lawmakers approached the final hours of the session.

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

Hugh Jackson sent me a funny note after he and his co-host, Elizabeth Crum, interviewed Assembly Speaker John Oceguera on their KSNV Channel 3 TV show, “The Agenda.”

“Nov. 7: Mining lobbyist John Oceguera.”

The joke is that following two TV interviews this week, Oceguera’s campaign for Congress against Republican Rep. Joe Heck is all but finished. So, with his political career done, Oceguera will take his rightful place among the influence peddlers of Carson City, making half-truth arguments to clueless legislators on behalf of monied interests.

The gold mining industry will throw him a bone, as will the trial lawyers following his long defense of their hefty hourly fees in construction defect cases. If he’s really saving up for a San Diego vacation home, maybe he’ll slum it and sign up the payday lenders or a towing company. And, following his golden ladder retirement from the North Las Vegas Fire Department, Oceguera will probably do some pro bono work for the firefighters union.

About those TV interviews, which have become instantly infamous:

Oceguera first appeared on “Face to Face With Jon Ralston” and refused to take a position on any of the important federal issues, including the foreclosure crisis, Obamacare or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.

Instead, he stuck to rote talking points spat out of some dim robot at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Worst of all, he couldn’t even deliver them properly. They were so derivative he sounded like a guy on a karaoke machine doing an impression of a guy on a karaoke machine singing a song by a Bon Jovi cover band.

Since Oceguera can’t or won’t defend the key legislation of his own party, here’s a quick primer. When President Barack Obama came into office in January 2009, the economy was in free-fall and economists across the spectrum recommended forceful action. The passage and implementation of the stimulus prevented a more severe downturn, according to many private economists, such as Mark Zandi, who was an economic adviser to the campaign of Republican Sen. John McCain.

As for health care, we have the most expensive and some of the least effective in the industrialized world, with costs far outpacing inflation and millions without access to care. So Democrats, who have been trying to solve the problem since President Harry Truman, tried again. The law tries to get everyone covered while reducing costs.

Instead of saying what he liked or didn’t like about these legislative responses, Oceguera told Jackson and Crum on “The Agenda”: “I’m trying to look forward. Everyone keeps trying to ask questions in the past.”

A totally lame dodge. The only way we’re going to know how you’re going to act in the future is if you answer questions about these fundamental issues.

There’s another reason Oceguera would like not to discuss the past. As Review-Journal columnist Glenn Cook reported recently, Oceguera paid some money so he could retire with a full pension early — at 43! — as a North Las Vegas firefighter last year. With accrued, unused sick time added to his benefits and salary, most of which he took even while the Legislature was in session because he said he worked both jobs at once, he made $452,516 in 2011, according to the website

Oceguera told Ralston it was all “by the book.” Not a very high bar, and I suspect Republicans won’t care when they’re crafting the attack ads.

I get the sense that Oceguera believed his success in Carson City meant he could slide right into this federal race and give the equivalent of CliffsNotes answers. (Um, Ahab, is, like, a tragic hero.)

What he should have realized is that success in Carson City signifies nothing, other than perhaps a character defect.

In obvious damage control mode Wednesday, Oceguera sent out an email with the subject line, “What I stand for.”

He should have answered: “Wealthy lobbying clients.”

Or just left it blank.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 12 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Thanks for the information. Just the kind of person we don't want. No vote here.

  2. I bet Oceguera longs for the days of that comfortable firefighting gig.

  3. Even when skewering one of his own, your boy the Cool man still manages to get in his far left talking points. I have to say I'm impressed with his tenacity, if not with his logic. And you call this "journalism"....

  4. The primary is not over yet. There is another candidate Dr. Stephen Frye who is not a career politician. We need to take a look at him to run if only for that Dems need someone who has the President's back.

    I think he has a real chance of winning the primary because after these performances Oceguera primary voters are going to stay home!

  5. GEESHE! I know John, like him a lot, and was planning on supporting him - but, right out of the box beginning the primary cycle his poor performace is disturbingly disappointing - and this is just sad, Sad, SAD!

    We need to be fielding solidly like-minded, progressive Democrats with the courage to be candid and the back-bone to speak the people's truth to power! We need to elect really strong Progressive Democrats so we have the best chance to win on our issues!

    There's nothing more disappointing than witnessing your friends failing - so, it's time to take a good solid look at Dr. Stephen Frye IMHO!

  6. I just can't understand ANY Democrat not simply understanding when asked if they support the President the answer is YES. How easy was that?

  7. "Worst of all, he couldn't even deliver them properly. They were so derivative he sounded like a guy on a karaoke machine doing an impression of a guy on a karaoke machine singing a song by a Bon Jovi cover band."

    LOLZ! ignoring the rest of the subject, this is Funnnny! Great writing!

  8. I never heard of Dr. Frye, but after looking at the link from ChrisKramar, I would vote for Dr. Frye over Oceguera any day. Thanks for the link.

  9. Patrick.......really.....again with points I agree with....scary...but your last quote "should have realized is that success in Carson City signifies nothing, other than perhaps a character defect", - so true

    - and we paid him twice last year?? so he was in Carson and on the front lines with the fire brigade?? must have superpowers. Great gig if you can get it.

    Hopefully this guys political career ends in Carson City, because the people in this state are crazy enough to vote this guy into the US Legislature just because of his party affiliation.

  10. Yesterday President Obama demostrated the candor of courage in politics - and ALL DEMOCRATS should fully, unquestionably support President Obama! I am stunned at the lack of support from some, when it would be simply so easy to say "Yes, of course I fully support President Obama as a Democrat and Nevadan and American!"

  11. How about this ? A person who has the ability to identify a problem, determine proper corrective action, then implement and execute plan to correct problem. Like me deciding to run for office to fix problem. The problem: John Oceguera or Joe Heck are NOT best representatives for fine people of NV District 3. The Solution: Jake Holder is. Vote for Jake Holder in the Democrat Primary. Early voting starts May 26th and election day is Tues June 12th from 7a-7p.

    Jake Holder is a true representative of the diverse people of District 3 who has the capability (former Navy Officer), passion to do the right thing, and specific moderate ideas and positions on major issues and challenges facing our country today.

    I am in favor of Republicare or Obamacare (whatever you like to call it) and would have voted for it. People just upset now worried about having to pay for it (natural) but what about when you might have major health issue (God forbid) and need it and are covered ! I have a specific plan to fix housing issue that will benefit ALL homeowners (ie. houses in neighborhoods taken care of and property values increase fastest). I have another more basic idea that will bring significant additional revenues to the Hotel/Casinos and their workers. I have specific idea plan (Five Year Fixed Expenditure Budget) to get debt under control. And most importantly of all: I will make decisions that benefit the common good of the majority of people - not that benefit myself directly or the special interests of the powerful wealthy few. I will not constantly worry about raising campaign funds. I will rely on my assumption that if make good decisions that benefit the majority of the people in my district, the people will "have my back" and keep voting me back in office to continue good work on their behalf.

    NV has closed Primary so you must be registered Democrat to vote for me in Primary. Please do the most important thing you can do for yourself and your posterity. Please change/update your registration and vote for Jake Holder. After the Primary you can change it back to whatever you want and vote for whoever you want in General election.

    Sincerely, with hopes and dreams for our great country,

    future Congressman, Jake Holder

  12. Check out the real Democrat in the CD3 race, Dr. Stephen Frye.