Nevada was barely out of diapers when it had its first headline-making scandal: In 1869, it was discovered that the late State Treasurer Eban Rhoades had looted state funds to support his cocaine habit and buy mining stocks. Here are a few more recent examples:
After a 1954 raid on a well-known Boulder Highway brothel, Las Vegas Sun publisher Hank Greenspun “put together a sting operation” to nail the local officials involved, says historian Michael Green. Featuring microphones concealed in watches, a reporter hiding in a motel closet, and a character nicknamed “Big Juice,” it implicated the sheriff, among others.
In 1982, this FBI sting operation netted bribery convictions against two state senators (including Floyd Lamb, who has a state park named after him) and two Clark County commissioners.
Convicted of falsifying his income taxes, District Judge Claiborne of Nevada refused to resign, and went to prison in 1986 still holding his seat and drawing his salary. The only way to bounce him from office was for the Senate to impeach him — which, in a rarely used move, it did in 1986. The case had far-reaching implications for the impeachment process.
This early-aughts doozy embroiled the county commission with a strip-club owner in a fetid gumbo of venality. “It has everything,” says political journalist Steve Sebelius, “bribery, greed, corruption of otherwise innocent people (Mary Kincaid-Chauncy), use of government as a weapon against competitors of strip clubs, etc. Plus it’s a quintessential Las Vegas story and sent a voting majority of former commissioners — four — to jail at the same time.”