Las Vegas Sun

January 20, 2018

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Reality Check:

Rory Reid’s attack ad twists truth, Brian Sandoval’s words

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Rory Reid

Rory Reid

Sun Coverage

You can tell it’s political season by the commercials on TV. What can you believe? How have the facts been spun, or ignored? Sun columnist Jon Ralston analyzes these political commercials and grades them for their truthfulness.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid’s recent ad claims GOP candidate Brian Sandoval was recruited to run for governor by banking lobbyists who helped crash the economy.

The commercial

It is a potentially powerful ad — well-crafted and edited for effect. But it is fundamentally flawed, as is the overall attack.

The ad begins with a canard: Lobbyists for big banks did not recruit Sandoval to run for governor. But gaming lobbyists did. Sandoval told “Nevada Newsmakers” that the lobbyists in question — Pete Ernaut and Greg Ferraro — are friends and he talked to them about his candidacy.

Here’s what was said: “Well they did not ask me to run, but they asked me if I would be interested in the position, and certainly, yes, I talked to them. Peter Ernaut and Greg are two folks that I have known since college. I worked with Paul Laxalt with them. Pete and I served in the Assembly together, so they are folks that I trust and know very well.”

The ad also asserts that Sandoval’s law firm lobbies for banks.

This is a reference to Jones Vargas, which Sandoval joined shortly after he left the bench. One of the firm’s partners, John Sande, has long been the industry association lobbyist. But he had nothing to do with Sandoval leaving the bench.

The ad continues: “Lobbyists pushed Sandoval into sponsoring the bill deregulating Nevada’s banks.”

Now we are time traveling. This is a reference to a 1997 bill that changed various banking regulations.

As an assemblyman, Sandoval was the sole sponsor. But the measure passed unanimously and was not written by Sande.

Rather, it was written by a partner at Reid’s current law firm, Lionel Sawyer & Collins, which brags about the bill’s passage on its website.

Yet the ad states: “It had devastating consequences and left the rest of us to bail them out,” including “$1.2 billion in losses.”

The reality

I’ve seen no evidence the 1997 bill cost Nevadans $1.2 billion.

Legislative minutes from 1997 show state regulators and others agreed the measure would update archaic laws to make local banks more competitive with national banks.

Should regulators here have kept a better eye on banks? Perhaps. But even if what the ad says were true, the bill passed unanimously. Reid should blame every Democrat who backed it and Democratic Gov. Bob Miller, who signed it.

As for whether Ernaut and Ferraro are running Sandoval’s campaign, Ernaut is the man in charge. So Sandoval is disingenuous, but the ad edits his response out of context.

Here’s what really happened:

“Nevada Newsmakers” host Sam Shad: “Are they running your campaign?”

Brian Sandoval: “Yes. They are not running my campaign but they are advising my campaign.”

So the Reid folks cut one part and inserted another to make it look worse for Sandoval. That’s just not kosher. And the entire premise of the ad is undermined from the first line forward.

I give this ad an F.

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