The Gaming Control Board has refused to release to Battle Born Media newspapers an audio recording surreptitiously made by Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett of a conversation with Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt concerning litigation involving Las Vegas Sands executive Sheldon Adelson, saying the recording is not a public record under state law.
The existence of the recording was first revealed in mid-February by The Nevada Independent, an online news organization funded by contributions.
Sources reportedly told the Independent’s editor Jon Ralston that Burnett secretly recorded the conversation to protect the agency, because the Sands had previously tried to have the state intervene in a multimillion-dollar wrongful termination lawsuit by a former executive against the casino company. Adelson has been a major contributor to Laxalt’s election campaign.
Those sources also told Ralston that Burnett later gave the recording to the FBI, which determined no crime had been committed.
Burnett declined to comment to the Independent, but Laxalt’s office released a statement saying, “The Attorney General’s Office was approached by the Sands Corporation asking us to file an amicus brief about NRS 463 — a statute that protects the confidentiality of documents submitted to the Gaming Control Board. I’ve made it a practice to personally advise and meet with my clients on a regular basis. As a Nevada statewide elected official, I also meet with constituents all the time on issues that are important to the State and our clients.”
The Control Board’s custodian of records replied to Battle Born Media’s public records request for a copy of the recording by saying it is not a public record because it was not made by the Control Board for the purposes of carrying out any of its functions.
“Even if the requested material was a public record,” the custodian stated, “it is declared confidential and privileged by law and, therefore, exempt from disclosure,” citing various Nevada statutes, including one cited by Laxalt in his statement. The law broadly declares many records used by the Control Board to determine the suitability of an applicant for a gaming license to be confidential.