LAS VEGAS — A new lawsuit filed days before the Nevada primary election accuses Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the longtime Republican gubernatorial frontrunner, of sharing information related to his service police with campaign consultants to “improve his chances of winning office.”
Lombardo, who has far outpaced his GOP gubernatorial opponents in the polls and fundraising, is set to advance to a competitive general election in November against first-term Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak.
The recent lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was filed late Friday afternoon in Clark County District Court by Delaware-based research and consulting firm Due Diligence. Lombardo is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but the suit’s allegations largely relate to the search firm’s ongoing efforts to obtain LVMPD emails between the sheriff and his campaign consultants in 2021.
“The sole interest of non-disclosure is to prevent the disclosure of wrongdoing,” the lawsuit states.
Lombardo announced his candidacy to replace Sisolak last May. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s campaign declined to comment Monday on the lawsuit.
Earlier this year, after Due Diligence submitted its public records requests for the emails, LVMPD charged the company $153 to process the request and said “it expects these emails to be ready.” to be published” at the beginning of February.
But on the day of the scheduled release, according to the lawsuit, “LVMPD changed its tone,” instead claiming that the emails were not public records.
In its denial, Due Diligence alleges the police department provided a small sample of emails between Lombardo and his campaign staff “to demonstrate their nature.”
According to the lawsuit, those emails revealed that “Sheriff Lombardo was using his government-issued email address to engage in political activities during his work hours” – which would violate Nevada Administrative Code 287.770 – and included information “directly related to the conduct of government” such as Nevada’s COVID policies, an LVMPD deputy’s presentation analyzing the economy of Clark County and the entire state, and press releases from the governor’s office regarding new and pending state legislation.
The lawsuit seeks a court order that would require LVMPD to immediately release the records. Citing ongoing litigation, the police department declined to comment on Monday.
According to the Due Diligence website, the firm specializes in finding public records for clients ranging from political campaigns and marketing firms to small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. In the lawsuit, Due Diligence did not disclose his client, if any, for whom he is looking for the sheriff’s emails.
Lawyers for the firm did not respond to a request for comment from Monto.
Lombardo has served as head of LVMPD since 2015. Under his leadership, the department has been embroiled in numerous high-profile and costly legal battles over public documents.
Due Diligence trial comes less than two months after LVMPD agreed pay $250,000 to Las Vegas Review-Journal to settle a long legal battle over documents related to the October 2017 mass shooting on the Strip. The Nevada Supreme Court ends up ruled in favor of the newspaperleading to 34 weekly record releases.
The Review-Journal again sued the ministry in early 2020 for cases related to a historic residential fire in downtown Las Vegas that left six dead, 13 injured and nearly 50 homeless. The department released the documents hours after the complaint was filed.
The new allegations also come on the heels of the state Ethics Commission setting an arbitration hearing for May 2023 on Lombardo’s use of his uniform and insignia during his first statewide campaign.
Nevada’s primary election is on Tuesday. Other GOP gubernatorial candidates vying for the party’s nomination include Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, former Sen. Dean Heller and venture capitalist Guy Nohra.
Rio Lacanlale is the Las Vegas correspondent for the Reno Gazette Journal and the USA Today Network. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @riolacanlale. Support local journalism by subscribe to the RGJ today.