No Comment — May 13, 2007, 9:59 am

U.S. Attorneys Scandal—Las Vegas

During his recent testimony, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey described the former U.S. Attorney in Las Vegas, Daniel G. Bogden, as “straight as a Nevada highway and a fired-up guy.” During his tenure, violent crime fell dramatically in Nevada. And he was fired as part of the December 7 massacre. No coherent reason was ever offered for his termination, and Paul J. McNulty confessed that he had “qualms” about it. When asked why Bogden was fired, Alberto Gonzales said that he “didn’t have a recollection why,” but that, of course, was Gonzales’s answer to most questions. Those close to the situation never had a second’s doubt as to why Bogden was fired. His office had been deeply engaged in a series of investigations targeting GOP Congressman Jim Gibbons, then seeking election as Nevada’s governor. Moreover, Nevada was increasingly emerging as a “battleground state” as the once impressive Republican voter registration edge faded away and the state could no longer be counted as “safe Republican.” The GOP was linked to a large-scale voter fraud operation in the state in which voter registration efforts shredded and discarded the registration forms of those indicating that their party preference was “Democrat.”

Now NBC News reports that the FBI is zeroing in on Gibbons and has already collected testimony that he took bribery payments during a luxury Caribbean cruise he took with his wife and friends at the expense of a defense contractor. Email traffic has shown including “reminders” about the need to bring along the bribery payment, and substantial evidence has been collected showing that Gibbons intervened to help the contractor secure lucrative defense contracts, according to the NBC report.

In an exclusive interview with NBC, Montgomery — who’s now at war with his former partner — makes an explosive charge. He says that near the end of the cruise, he saw Trepp pass money to the congressman.

Dennis Montgomery: There was a lot of alcohol and a lot of drinking. And that’s when I first saw Warren give Jim Gibbons money.

Lisa Myers: How much?

Montgomery: Close to $100,000.

Myers: How can you know?

Montgomery: Because he gave him casino chips and cash.

Myers: Are you sure about what you saw?

Montgomery: I’m absolutely, positively sure.

This investigation follows an earlier one handled by law enforcement officials looking into a waitress’s claims that Gibbons roughed her up in a parking lot. No charged resulted in that case.

The bribery case is now before a Nevada federal grand jury.

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Discussed in this essay:

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.

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