Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 | 2 a.m.
When Aaron Ford says he’ll put Nevada families first if elected attorney general, it’s a claim he can back up with his actions as one of the state’s top lawmakers.
As the Senate majority leader during the 2017 session and the minority leader in 2015, Ford was a champion of public schools, a strong proponent of consumer protections and a leading advocate of reasonable gun safety measures like universal background checks on firearms purchases. But he also broke with some members of his party in supporting the hotel tax increase for the Raiders stadium, saying he wanted to provide jobs for families.
In a race with a Republican opponent who has proved that his top priority would be advancing right-wing extremist ideology, Ford is by far the best candidate for the position.
Not only will his focus be on the interests of Nevadans as opposed to political dogma, Ford’s familiarity with the legislative process and the various players in state government will help him work with lawmakers on policy issues related to the AG’s office — consumer protection, sentencing, criminal prosecution and more.
As a partner in the high-profile Las Vegas law firm Eglet Prince, his extensive legal experience and skills speak for themselves as qualifications for AG.
Ford’s personal story is one of overcoming obstacles, both those placed in front of him and some he erected for himself.
His parents divorced when he was young, leaving his mother to raise him and his two brothers on her own. Ford, as the oldest child, had responsibility early on to look after his younger siblings.
Money was tight — the kind of tight where cash for expenses like Boy Scout dues couldn’t be scraped together. So Ford got involved in school activities instead, including doing service through the Key Club. Meanwhile, his mother got him into a program tailored to children who would be the first in their families to attend college.
Ford buried himself in his studies, and he made it through school. He enrolled in Texas A&M University, and graduated in 1990.
But while in his early 20s, he made several mistakes. He was arrested for public intoxication while walking on campus after drinking at a friend’s house. Later he was cited for speeding, and he compounded the problem when he failed to pay his fine. He also got in trouble for stealing some tires.
“Those cracks you’ve heard of people falling through? I fell through some of them,” Ford has said.
But he kept moving forward, settling his legal issues. He started his career as a middle school math teacher while his wife, Berna, finished her law degree. Later, Ford would obtain a law degree of his own and become a career attorney.
Now, in his campaign for attorney general, his opponents have made an issue of his run-ins with the law to question his character. They also revealed that Ford accumulated more than $185,000 in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties from 2010 to 2013.
But Ford made restitution on the youthful run-ins with the law and paid the IRS for his errors. He took responsibility, something that occurs all too rarely in politics these days. More than simply taking ownership of his errors, he used them to grow and become a better person.
Meanwhile, it’s well worth noting that the same people who dredged up Ford’s legal slip-ups didn’t do the same for the current attorney general, Adam Laxalt, who also got in legal trouble as a young man. Rather, they’re backing Laxalt in his bid for governor.
Granted, it would have served Ford better to get out in front on the matters instead of reacting after his record was revealed, but the exact same could be said for Laxalt. What’s at play here is a classic double standard.
Ford says he’s running because he’s tired of seeing the AG’s staff put “ideological extremes” ahead of family values through such actions as signing the state into a lawsuit challenging the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Indeed, it’s clear that Ford’s opponent, Wes Duncan, would continue to press Laxalt’s anti-immigrant, pro-NRA, anti-abortion agenda. Duncan is Laxalt’s former lead assistant in the AG’s office and before that was a conservative legislator.
As Laxalt has demonstrated — and Duncan would continue — an extremist in that position can wield substantial power in thwarting the will of the people, as proved with Laxalt’s failure to fight to institute the universal background checks ballot question approved by voters in 2016. Duncan’s presence in the office would put him at odds with — and likely trying to stop — moves by a centrist Legislature or governor. And as he’s already shown by siding with Laxalt on background checks that he’s comfortable ignoring voters.
Ford, conversely, is a gun safety proponent who would work to institute universal background checks, a measure that Laxalt campaigned against and then walked away from when complications arose in establishing the new checks.
Ford also brings an understanding of what life is like for those who have little but their families — and the compassion that comes with that understanding.
He’s an exceptional candidate. By sending him to the attorney general’s office, Nevadans will be well served.