COMMENTARY: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
November 28, 2001
There are two sides to every story – usually

On Tuesday, November 20, 2001, Sun Political columnist and News One commentator Jon Ralston hosted former mayor Jan Jones and KLAS TV newsman George Knapp on his television program "Face to Face." The subject was supposed to be "Private lives of public figures."

The program was intended to discuss politicians and reporters stepping far over the line and getting too personal. I was acutely interested in Jones’ responses since it was she, during the 1991 mayoral campaign, who stepped well over that invisible line and falsely accused her opponent (me) of being involved with drugs. Her tactic worked and she won by a landslide. Could it get more personal than that? I listened on.

Jones was asked by Ralston: "You have appeared before the Ethics Commission more than any other elected official in the history of mankind and therefore you must be unethical. Isn’t that essentially what they tried to do to you?"

Jones snipped back, "Well, and it was all Steve Miller who kept bringing me in front of the Ethics Commission. They weren’t real ethics complaints. They were a guy who had a grudge and the papers ran with it. That was bunk."

"All Steve Miller?" "Grudge?" I screamed at my TV that I was not responsible for "all" eleven ethics complaints filed against Jones. I only filed two – and they were doozies!

"Bunk?" The first complaint I filed was for her 1998 vote to squelch a restaurant in front of a bank that had just loaned her new husband $4.3 million. The bank said "No way" to the restaurant and Jones dutifully voted their wishes without disclosing her husband’s loan.

Had I been invited to face Jones on Ralston’s show, I would have reminded her of the July 30, 1998, Review Journal article that said, "But (ethics) commissioners struggled to understand the couple's dealings -- and whether it is possible, as the mayor contends, that they did not discuss in detail a multimillion dollar land deal that Jones failed to disclose before a key Las Vegas City Council vote in May."

To no one's surprise, the Ethics Commission gave her a pass.

Several minutes later in the program, Ralston mentioned my daily E-Briefing (to subscribe, write to:

Jones exploded! "Look what Steve Miller did with Russ Driver with his radio show. I mean if there was anything close to libel as every single day blasting elected officials, making up stories, and quite frankly, if he hadn’t made the mistake of going after Steve Wynn he’d still probably be on the air today doing the same thing and getting away with it!" sniveled Jones.

(Talk about "libel," "making up stories" and "getting away with it," then what the heck would you call her fake drug allegation?)

Ralston finally defended me by saying, "He should get away with it unless he’s actually slandering people. I think you’d agree that he could go out and say all kinds of outrageous stuff. He could go on there and say Jan Jones is the worst mayor in the history of the world – she sells out to the gaming industry – she goes to other cities, all the other stuff Steve could say about you. That’s fair game."

Jones replied, "Well, as long as it’s opinion and as long as what he is saying is true, which most of the time with Steve Miller it’s not true. I mean it really isn’t true. He’ll get enough wrong that it is libelous. You know, even in going to other cities, (mimicking Miller:) ‘You helped bring gaming to Detroit,’ well, that’s absurd!" said Jones.

Ralston interrupted, "No, you’re just doing that now in your new job." Jones flippantly responded, "But that’s my job!" (Jones promotes competitive-to-Nevada casinos for Harrah’s in California and Arizona.)

"Libelous?" "Absurd?" Now, I really wanted to jump through the TV screen!

Had I been invited to face her on the program, I would have explained that I took Jones before the Ethics Commission the second time for promoting casinos in Detroit while she was still the Mayor of Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Sun described my action by saying, "Miller…filed a complaint against Jones regarding a March 1997 speech she gave in Detroit touting the benefits of gaming. Detroit had been considering applications for casinos from four companies, including Circus Circus Enterprises and Mirage Resorts -- both of which Jones owned stock in."

Even though I had another good case, once again, the Ethics Commission gave her a pass.

Jones is VERY influential! She controls the purse strings at Harrah’s during elections and she is also a very close friend of Brian Greenspun who owns the cable TV station that airs Ralston’s show.

LV Sun Photo of Jones

I also wished I could have been on the show to explain why Wynn had my national radio program taken off the air.

The Review Journal reported on April 22, 1993, "Steve Wynn flexed his legal muscle on another front this week. The target: talk show host and former City Councilman Steve Miller. Miller, who buys the airtime for his show, has criticized Wynn for his attempts at getting legalized gambling in Hartford, Conn. ‘I want Wynn to invest money here, not take it out of state,’ Miller said. ‘That's the thrust of what I'm trying to do.’"

Wynn complained to reporters at the Hartford Courant that my radio show ruined his plan to build a casino in Connecticut. In reality, the Conn. Legislature just didn’t buy his scheme. My efforts may have caused him to divert the money back here to build the Bellagio, but I wasn’t given the chance to inform Ralston’s audience of that either.

Also, when Jones described my criticisms of her saying my words aren’t "true," I wish I could have faced her to quote Jon Ralston when on my radio program he described her libelous drug allegation as, "I thought it was an abhorrent political tactic."

By this time, the usually well balanced "Face to Face" had degraded from the original subject, "Private lives of public figures," into a lesson in "abhorrent political tactic(s)" courtesy of Jones. (I wonder how soon before Jon invites her back on?)

The next day, I E-mailed Jon that in fairness I should be given a chance to respond to her diatribe. Jon surprised me by saying, "There is no rebuttal necessary." "She said nothing untrue about you that I heard." (Hello!)

I wish Ralston's program would have lived up to its name "Face to Face" so I could have faced Jones last Tuesday because there are always two sides to every story.