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The Bundy/Oregon Standoff, NV's New 'Secrecy' Law And Who's Running For Office?


The filing deadline for political office has passed.

There are rumblings from Oregon that Nevada lawmakers did more harm than good during Bundy Two – the takeover of a federal property earlier this year.

And there's new law that protects all communiques from state lawmakers, passed in the last hours of the 2015 legislature.

Steve Sebelius, columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of KLAS-TV's "Politics NOW" talked to KNPR's State of Nevada about all things politics.


Oregon Public Broadcasting recently had a story about Michele Fiore and other western lawmakers role in the occupation of a refuge in rural Oregon. Is Fiore doing what she should be doing as a representative in Nevada?

 “No I don’t think so. Primarily because one your duties as an elected official is to inform yourself about the facts of any given situation and then to use that information to formulate good policy. Michele Fiore as well as many other members of that group are laboring under an absolutely false idea that the federal government may not own land or may not own as much land as it does, which is absolutely false.

Did anything surprise you in the filings for office?

So far, nothing has surprised me. The exit, for example, of former Assembly Speaker John Oceguera from the Congressional District 4 primary that’s probably something that we should have foreseen. His pathway to victory, and in fact a couple of other people in that race their pathway to victory is very narrow. I think that was probably the right decision his part.

The others in that race are Mike Schaefer, Rodney Smith, Morse Arberry, Lucy Flores, Ruben Kihuen and Susie Lee. Susie Lee has the most money. Are the odds in her favor?

The odds always tend to favor someone who can put a lot of TV ads on TV. And certainly with her war chest she can certainly do that. Her fundraising ability I’ve been quite impressed by. A lot of people know she’s personally wealthy, but she hasn’t put much of her personal wealth into that. She has shown the ability to raise money other than writing herself checks in that race. So, I think she’s doing very well in the race.  

Sen. Harry Reid is backing Ruben Kihuen. If he doesn’t win, what does that say about Reid’s power?

In the olden days, the fact that Harry Reid would have backed a candidate would have sent all the other democrats melting back into the woodwork. The fact that none of the democrats exited the race when Reid’s endorsement of Kihuen came down shows that his influence has waned a little bit.

The New York Times this week had an article about Reid’s role in trying to get President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee approved by the Senate. Do you think he’ll have a part in that?

Yeah, I think he will just like he has had a part in every major legislative battle going back to when he has taken over as leader. The Affordable Care Act would not be law without Harry Reid. I think that Harry Reid is far from finished when it comes to this nomination. This is going to be an epic fight. Much like the standoff in Oregon, it is an unnecessary fight. It shouldn’t have to happen and it’s kind of sad that it is.

We talked to two Nevada legislators about Nevada’s new Open Records law. The argument has been made that without the law public records requests for emails and texts would be overly broad, time consuming and costly. The law basically prevents the media from getting any email or any communique from any state lawmaker. What do you think of the rationale?

I don’t think very much of it. I read a 28 page letter written to an Associated Press reporter by the Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes. This letter, these 28 pages were like nothing I’ve seen in my 26, 27 years of journalism. Essentially, the Legislature of the state of Nevada is arguing that not only can they can do their work almost entirely in secret but that the must do their work entirely in secret in order to function properly. That is absolutely backwards. The fact of the matter is lawmakers should not have more privacy and immunities and privileges because of their elected position, they should actually have fewer privacy and immunities and privileges because of their elected position. 

Steve Sebelius, KNPR contributor, columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of KLAS-TV's "Politics NOW"

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.