Police raid consultant's home in Nevada lawmaker vote probe

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas police searched the Virginia home of a longtime Nevada conservative political operative Thursday in an ongoing extortion probe.

Virginia authorities assisted Las Vegas police in serving the warrant at a house in Front Royal, Virginia, that the Nevada Secretary of State said is registered to Tony Dane's consulting firm, Dane & Associates of Las Vegas. No arrests were made.

Dane, who has run for office in Nevada and fought behind-the-scenes political battles for years, has an automated telephone calling operation that asks voters to support or oppose candidates and issues in Nevada and other states.

Dane acknowledged the investigation and said in an email that he hoped police would "get to the truth."

Police are investigating a report by Republican Assemblyman Chris Edwards that he was approached in December by someone who wanted him to change his vote for speaker of the GOP-led Assembly. Edwards has not made public details of what he told police.

Reached Thursday at the Legislature, Edwards said the latest search was "a very good indication."

Las Vegas police labeled the investigation an extortion probe when they served an earlier warrant Jan. 31 at a Las Vegas home.

Edwards, a decorated U.S. Navy veteran, was elected in November to fill a seat formerly held by Republican Cresent Hardy, who was elected to Congress.

Since his election, Edwards has sided with moderate GOP leaders in a party riven by infighting between conservative and moderate Republicans, mainly over raising taxes to fund Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposals to fund schools and child care programs.

One key battle was over the powerful Assembly speaker's seat in a Legislature with a GOP majority in houses for the first time since 1985.

In a Jan. 28 interview, Dane told The Associated Press he was "sick and tired of liberal Republicans," and said he had $1 million to spend on his political goals.

Dane told AP he'd met with Edwards and Republican Assemblyman John Hambrick, and said he planned to make "sizable" donations to recall organizations targeting both men.

Hambrick, who was later elected Assembly speaker, didn't immediately respond to messages Thursday.

Last week, the Clark County Republican Party filed a complaint accusing Dane's conservative CRC Political Action Committee of illegally using contributions to finance efforts against Republican lawmakers, including Edwards and Hambrick. It accuses the committee of accepting more than $245,000 in illegal contributions from donors without revealing their source.

In Virginia, Judy McCloskey indicated she owns the Front Royal home and expressed surprise that a warrant had been served there. She said she needed to speak her property manager, hung up and didn't immediately respond to a follow-up message.

Dane made an unsuccessful bid in 1996 against a Las Vegas lawmaker who at the time was the state's only openly gay assemblyman, and he was part of a vocal group that launched a recall in 2003 against popular moderate Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn.

"What Dane does is send out nasty robo-calls and fliers," said John Watkins, a veteran Las Vegas defense attorney who lost a bid for Clark County District Court judge last November and blamed Dane for what he called a "hatchet" job. Watkins filed a complaint about Dane's tactics last year with the Secretary of State.

"It's one thing to lose a race," Watkins said. "But not when you're hit with inappropriate negative falsehoods."


Snyder reported from Carson City, Nevada. Associated Press writers Michelle Rindels in Carson City and Larry O'Dell in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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