COLUMN: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
October 25, 2000

Ralston's book tells of Jones' political demise

 Political columnist Jon Ralston's new book The Anointed One tells a sorrowful story of how the political process works in our state.  In the book, Ralston describes in finite detail his perception of how the moneyed manipulators took full control of Carson City by electing Kenny Guinn as their puppet Governor. He also tells of several surprise developments along the way that included this writer.

In 1998, almost every political reporter in Nevada had come to the conclusion that Guinn was certain to win the gubernatorial election by a landslide against longtime State Senator Joe Neal, the-then Democratic hopeful.  At the time, Neal was unable to raise a dime in coveted gaming money because of his penchant for wanting to bring the gross gaming tax into parity with the state sales tax. The race seemed over before it began.

Then entered popular Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones.  Jones, at the last minute and against the advice of friends and advisors, plopped her own money down on the table and jumped into the race.  Pollsters began having a heyday as the margins between Guinn and Jones began to narrow.

I was concerned when it became apparent that my pending defamation lawsuit against Jones could take a turn in her favor if she were to become our state's Governor. I realized that if Jones were to be victorious against Guinn it would be next to impossible to convince a jury that she, now as the Governor of Nevada, had once defrauded the voters in order to be first elected as Mayor in 1991; a deceitful victory that lead to her being reelected and then to her decisions to twice run for higher office.

In December 1998, I won a Nevada Supreme Court decision when the Justices determined that in the 1991 Mayoral election Jan Jones had lied and "shown actual malice" in her eleventh hour political advertisements against me that falsely claimed that I had committed a serious felony. Jones appealed the Supreme Court decision against her in January 1999, however the Justices again unanimously sided with me and remanded the case back to District Court for jury trial.

I felt that I needed to lend a hand to Mr. Guinn in order to keep such a person as Jones from swindling another political victory.
At the time I was not conversant with Jon Ralston for personal reasons, so the amazingly accurate insights he now expresses in The Anointed One were gleaned without my help.

Ralston begins describing Jones' political demise on page 179: "(Steve) Miller had unsuccessfully challenged Jones for the mayoralty in 1991, then sued her for libel after she crushed him in the primary. Partly responsible for the trouncing was a last-minute flier that implied, outrageously, that he was a drug dealer. The June 18 story reported that a Supreme Court justice, Charles Springer, had said during a hearing on the case that the flier 'looks likes libel per se to me.' (Steve) Miller, who made a career in the '90s of losing elections, then pursuing his conquerors with an Ahab-like zeal, blast-faxed a release to the media and others. In addition to Springer's quote, Miller included an old quote from Gov. Bob Miller (no relation), who defeated the mayor in a brutal 1994 gubernatorial primary. 'It's apparent she's willing to run a negative gutter campaign,' (Bob) Miller had said at the time in response to a Jones attack. 'The important thing here is the fact that the mayor is willing to besmirch the reputation of anybody for her own political gain.' The story was just a distraction, but no one knew then what a harbinger the Steve Miller release would be for the fall campaign."

On page 184, Ralston tells: "If Jones already thought she was running on an oil-slicked track, greased with Guinn's money and organization, the ground completely went out from underneath her on July 23. That day, the state Ethics Commission met in Reno (on a complaint filed by Steve Miller) and found enough evidence to hold a full-blown hearing on the mayor's involvement in the City Council's denial of Nick's Fishmarket. (Jones new husband) Richard Schuetz shoved a reporter away from Jones after the hearing and Jones refused to comment. They seemed shocked that the panel had decided to move forward, even though the questions (raised by Steve Miller) seemed legitimate."

Ralston goes on: "Whatever the answers, the hearing was set for Aug. 14, two weeks before the primary…But if she were found guilty of an ethics violation 75 days before the general election, the race was over. And the Guinn campaign knew it.  'On our part, there was pretty much an assumption of guilt,' said one Guinn insider. 'We kind of thought she had pretty much shot herself in the face, not even in the foot…' 'At that point, for the second time in the campaign, we made a mistake and settled into a comfort zone,' one campaign advisor remembered. And why not? Jones had an ethics cloud that at the very least darkened her prospects and might even rain out her chances."

Just when Guinn thought he had it in the bag, Ralston tells of an amazing Jones comeback.  I knew I had to reenter the fray.
On page 207, Ralston describes: "Before the (Jones) ad campaign began, though, Guinn tried to highlight a Jones negative, while at the same time buffing his image as a man of integrity. The state Ethics Commission met September 17 to consider more charges against Jones, this time filed (again) by her nemesis, ex-City Councilman Steve Miller, that she (as Mayor of Las Vegas) had behaved unethically by touting gaming in Detroit, while owning stock in two of the casino companies that had applied for licenses there. It was the ninth time Jones had appeared before the panel (two times at Steve Miller's request). And although she was once again exonerated, only three days later Guinn unveiled a three-point plan on ethics."
On page 216 Ralston describes Guinn putting the last nail in Jones' political coffin: "(Guinn's campaign manager Pete) Ernaut picked up the phone on the airplane and called the campaign's reliable research expert, Denice Miller. He told her to find everything that had ever been said about Jones being unethical and to fax it all to (Sig) Rogich's office in Las Vegas."
Denise Miller immediately called this writer and requested that I fax my Jones's Ethics files to Rogich. I complied.
Rogich instantaneously published a mailer and produced a TV spot quoting the Springer and Bob Miller statements I had supplied. The rest is history.

Today, Jan Jones works for Harrah's Entertainment and spends most of her time at her primary residence in Laguna Beach. Her main interest is the development of competitive-to-Nevada casinos on the California roads leading to Laughlin and Reno.
She has received serious criticism for her extra-Nevada efforts.

"(Former LV Mayor Jan) Jones also believes that her company's (Harrah's) investments in California tribal gaming, as well as those of others, will have absolutely no effect on the state (Nevada's) economy." -- Jon Ralston, June 11, 2000, Las Vegas Sun

"' The company looks for strategic opportunities, and we think California is a great market,' said Jan Jones, the former mayor of Las Vegas, who is now a Harrah's senior vice president." "The risk to stockholders of gaming companies entering the California market is minimal, she noted, compared with decisions to build $1-billion casinos in Las Vegas." -- Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, February 23, 2000, Some Nevada Casinos Could Be Big Losers
After ten long years of delays caused by Jones, STEVE MILLER v. JAN LAVERTY JONES finally goes before a jury on February 12, in the court of District Judge Michael Cherry, who on June 5, granted my Motion for Time Certain for Trial after the recusals of five previously assigned judges.

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