Nev. governor may sue accuser over federal probe
By Brendan Riley
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, cleared by the Justice Department in a corruption investigation that clouded half of his first term, said Monday his "thoughts remain open" to suing the person whose accusations led to the probe.
The investigation of the former Republican congressman involved claims that he improperly received gifts from a software company that received military contracts while he was in Congress.
The allegations proved to be "baseless, and there’s not a shred of evidence that I did anything wrong," Gibbons said at a news conference.
"This certainly took a lot longer than I wanted to be resolved. I wish it would have been resolved a year ago, two years ago," he said. "But this is good news, and it doesn’t matter to me when the good news comes, even a day before an election."
His attorney, Abbe Lowell, of Washington, said Sunday that the Justice Department told him Gibbons wouldn’t be charged. A law enforcement official close to the case, who spoke anonymously because authorities never officially acknowledged the probe, confirmed the substance of Lowell’s statement.
Gibbons, who was elected governor in 2006 after five terms in Congress, had steadfastly denied any wrongdoing despite claims by Dennis Montgomery that eTreppid Technologies LLC founder Warren Trepp lavished Gibbons with money and a Caribbean cruise in exchange for help winning contracts for his company.
Montgomery’s credibility was put in doubt after a computer expert questioned the authenticity of e-mails Montgomery claimed proved Gibbons was accepting gifts.
Gibbons said defending himself against the allegations cost about $200,000 in legal fees. He had to solicit contributions to help cover those costs.
Asked if he would consider suing Montgomery now that the Justice Department and FBI have ended the investigation, Gibbons said: "You know, some days you’re harmed and the doors to the courthouse should remain open. And let me say that my thoughts remain open."
An attorney for Montgomery, Mark Gunderson in Reno, didn’t return a call seeking comment Monday.
The governor said he had been the target of "bogus charges trumped up by certain biased individuals," mentioning the eTreppid case as well as a claim by a state Democratic Party official that he pressured a county assessor to get an unwarranted property tax break.
A state Ethics Commission panel concluded in September that there was no evidence to support the tax break claim.
Along with the federal investigation, Gibbons has seen his approval ratings drop following a budget crunch, a messy divorce that is still pending and lawsuits involving his private and public activities.
Gibbons still faces a lawsuit from a woman claiming he threatened to rape her. He’s also being sued by a government staffer who claimed she was forced from her job because he thought she was leaking information about his personal use of a state cell phone.