Jim Gibbons

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jim Gibbons
Governor of Nevada
Former officeholder
In office
PredecessorKenny Guinn
Date of birthDecember 16, 1944
James Arthur "Jim" Gibbons (b. December 16, 1944) was the 28th Governor of Nevada. A Republican; he is also a former member of the United States House of Representatives, having served from 1997 to 2006.

Gibbons filed to run for re-election in 2010.[1] He lost in the primary. This move surprised some obsevers who had expected Gibbons not to seek another term; he lost the Republican primary to Brian Sandoval.


Born in Sparks, Nevada, Gibbons interrupted his studies at the University of Nevada, Reno during the Vietnam War to serve in the United States Air Force (1967–1971). He also attended Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles and the University of Southern California for post-graduate studies. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College, he joined the Nevada Air National Guard in 1975 and served as its vice commander from 1990 to 1996, participating in the first Gulf War. During his military career, Gibbons earned nineteen service medals, including the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross. In civilian life, he has worked as a lawyer in private practice, an airline pilot for both Western Airlines and Delta Air Lines, a hydrologist and a geologist.[2] Gibbons is a nonpracticing Latter-day Saint; his wife is a Presbyterian.[3] He and his wife are currently in the midst of divorce proceedings.

Political career

Gibbons served in the Nevada State Assembly from 1989 to 1993, during which time he was called to active service in the Gulf War as an RF-4C Flight Leader.

While working as a pilot for Delta Air Lines and serving as an assemblyman in the Nevada House, Gibbons ran for Nevada governor in 1994. As the Republican nominee, he lost to Democrat incumbent Bob Miller, having received 156,875 votes to Miller's 200,026.

He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 for Nevada's 2nd Congressional District, and served as vice chairman of the House Resources Committee, as well as on the Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His wife, Dawn Gibbons, was elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1998. Congressman Gibbons served 8 years as Nevada's United States Representative in the 2nd Congressional District. His long-time congressional Chief of Staff, Michael Dayton, was replaced in 2002 by then-legislative director, Robert Uithoven. Mr. Uithoven, who had served Mr. Gibbons as a staff member for many years, including his four years as Mr. Gibbons' chief of staff, moved on to serve as campaign manager for Mr. Gibbons' successful 2006 Gubernatorial campaign. While Mr. Uithoven was not given a gubernatorial position, his predecessor as Gibbons' congressional chief of staff, Michael Dayton, was named as the new governors top aide.


See also: Nevada gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010


Governor of Nevada, 2010
Candidate Vote % Votes
Tony Atwood 1.4% 2,440
Jim Gibbons Incumbent 27.2% 47,616
Stanleigh Harold Lusak 0.8% 1,380
Michael L. Montandon 12.6% 22,003
Green check mark transparent.pngBrian Sandoval 55.5% 97,201
None 2.5% 4,400
Total Votes 175,040


Gibbons announced in late 2004 that he would not run for a sixth term in 2006, instead opting to run for Governor of Nevada. He won the August 15 party primary handily, defeating state senator Bob Beers and Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt. In the general election (described as the "most contentious, ugly and negative in history"[4]) he faced Democratic nominee Dina Titus, who is the Minority Leader in the Nevada State Senate. Gibbons received 278,984 votes to Titus' 255,675. Titus won Clark County, Nevada's most populous, but was beaten by Gibbons in every other county. Gibbons called Titus "an admirable opponent," although Titus declined to echo his sentiments, saying "We disagree on basic policies, and neither one of us is going to change our minds for the other."[5]

Gibbons resigned his House seat on New Year's Eve, and was sworn in as governor just after midnight on New Year's Day, a highly irregular event in Nevada history. Many believe Gibbons did this in order to undo a late term appointment to the position of Nevada's Gaming Control Board Chairman by his predecessor, Governor Kenny Guinn.[6]

Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative

Gov. Jim Gibbons on May 10 announced he was orchestrating a new initiative petition drive, the third of his career, to require labor negotiations with Nevada government entities to be subjected to the state’s Open Meeting Law. Called the OPEN Government Initiative, Gibbons and his steering committee will now attempt to collect 97,002 valid signatures by Nov. 9. If successful, the proposed change to Nevada Revised Statutes would go to the 2011 Legislature. If the Legislature failed to enact the proposal, it would go to the voters in 2012.[7] Gibbons says bringing transparency to the collective bargaining process will allow residents to better see how their tax dollars are being spent.[8] It would affect local government entities. State employees do not have collective bargaining rights in Nevada. Gibbons has qualified two constitutional amendments for the ballot previously, and both were approved by voters. One requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. The other requires the Legislature to fund the public education budget before voting on other spending.


Gibbons has been married twice and has three children. He married his current wife, Dawn Gibbons, in 1985; they have a son, born in 1987. Dawn Gibbons did not move to Washington to live with her husband during the 10 years he served in Congress, saying she preferred to raise their son in Nevada. On May 2, 2008, Gibbons filed for divorce,[9][10] citing grounds of incompatibility stemming from an undisclosed event in Reno, and requesting the court to determine whether Gibbons or his wife would live at the Governor's Mansion.

Gibbons currently resides in Reno; his wife, Dawn, resides in the Governor's mansion in Carson City. An 1866 state law says a governor must "keep his office and reside at the seat of government." A spokesman for Gibbons described the move by the governor back to the couple's Reno home, which they have owned since 1989, as a temporary situation and said there was no law violation.[11]

Divorce proceedings were stayed upon agreement of living separately pending the suit. Dawn accused Jim of "infatuation and involvement with the wife of a Reno doctor;" Gibbons state that the woman in question is just a friend. In March-April 2007, he sent 860 text messages in one month to the woman.[12]

In June 2008, he was seen with former Playboy Playmate Leslie Durant at the Reno Rodeo.[13]


County property tax assessment

On July 11, 2008, the Associated Press reported that "Jim Gibbons asked for and received a property tax break on a vacant rural parcel he owns in Elko County that saved Nevada's chief executive thousands of dollars a year and left the county assessor feeling pressured." According to the assessor's records, Gibbons had his property tax liability lowered to $15 from $5,000 on the land he owns in rural Nevada. The Elko County Assessor said he felt pressure from the governor and the governor's lawyer to lower the tax liability. "To say I was put in an awkward position I think is an understatement," Joe Aguirre, a Republican, told The Associated Press.[14] The editorial page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which has been staunchly pro-Gibbons, said the deal might constitute fraud.[15]

Federal bribery investigation

On November 1, 2006, the Wall Street Journal published a story stating that Gibbons had earmarked several millions of dollars to a company owned by Warren Trepp, as well as added additional funds to a pre-existing government contract with Trepp's company. The report noted that Trepp had paid for a $10,000 cruise for Gibbons and his wife, which Gibbons failed to report, and $100,000 in campaign contributions. A former Trepp business partner claimed that Gibbons was also given gambling chips — convertible into cash — and cash directly.[16][17][18]

On February 15, 2007, the Journal reported that Gibbons was under federal investigation for allegedly accepting unreported gifts and/or payments from Trepp in exchange for official acts while he served in Congress (1997–2007).[19][20][21] According to reports, on March 22, 2005, days before Trepp and his wife left for the Caribbean cruise with Gibbons and his family, Jalé Trepp, Warren’s wife, sent a reminder to her husband. It said, “Please don't forget to bring the money you promised Jim and Dawn (Gibbons).” Minutes later, Trepp responded, “Don't you ever send this kind of message to me! Erase this message from your computer right now!”[22][23][24]

The U.S. Attorney for Nevada at time of the investigation was Daniel Bogden, who was one of seven federal prosecutors forced out of his job by the Bush administration in December 2006.[25][26][27]

Alleged sexual assault

In October 2006, a woman accused Jim Gibbons of attempted sexual assault in a parking garage. Gibbons claimed he was helping her to her car. They both admitted to drinking alcohol at McCormick and Schmick's restaurant in Las Vegas.

In the initial aftermath of the event, Las Vegas Sheriff Bill Young, a long time supporter of Jim Gibbons and donor to his gubernatorial campaign, cited lack of evidence in the case and refused to bring evidence of the attack to the District Attorney. His accuser did not initially want to pursue pressing charges, saying she just wanted "to be left alone." But when the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was forced to open the incident case file after inquiries by Las Vegas media, the Las Vegas Review Journal and the Las Vegas Sun released her name and the woman was thrust into the public eye. She later said she was being pressured to not talk to the police about the incident by people close to Jim Gibbons.[28] In fact, the Gibbon's campaign hired a private investigator to "talk" to the woman shortly after the incident occurred.[29]

Under pressure from the media and eventually the accuser, Sheriff Bill Young famously taunted the alleged victim to "bring it on" and sign a formal complaint. This is a highly irregular step as most victims of assault are not required to sign a complaint before an investigation can begin. Nevertheless, she signed the complaint and there was a further investigation. The evidence was given to the Las Vegas District Attorney, David Roger, who also donated to the Gibbons' Campaign. Charges were never filed in the case.[30]

The Gibbon's gubernatorial campaign manager, Robert Uithoven, speculated in an email to Gibbons' supporters that Dina Titus, Gibbons' opponent, hired the woman to entice Gibbons. Titus retorted that to do this she would have had to control where Gibbons went, who he was with, and even the weather (Gibbons claimed he was helping the woman to her car in part because of the weather).[31]

Undocumented housekeeper/nanny

In October 2006 as Gibbons was campaigning for governor, it was brought to light that he and his wife Dawn had employed Patricia Pastor Sandoval, a then-illegal immigrant from Peru, as a housekeeper and babysitter. Dawn, a state representative, denied the allegations, claiming that Sandoval had merely been a friend who had helped out around the house and was given clothing and household goods, but was not an employee. An employment contract from between Mrs. Gibbons and Sandoval, however, appeared to disprove that assertion as it clearly laid out the terms and conditions of Sandoval's hiring. Documents filed during Sandoval's 1988 application for working papers also contradicted earlier statements by Mrs. Gibbons that the family had not known that the woman was in the nation illegally.[32]

Sandoval states that she was employed from roughly 1987 to 1993. She also states that she was asked to hide in the basement and refrain from answering doors at certain times in order to ensure that her illegal status did not become public knowledge and jeopardize Gibbons' political career. In 1995, Dawn Gibbons filed a police complaint against Sandoval, alleging that she was attempting to extort money by threatening to go to the media with a story involving her illegal employment. Jim and Dawn Gibbons, however, later decided not to pursue the matter.[33]

In response to the revelations, Jim Gibbons' campaign issued a statement accusing Democratic candidate Dina Titus of fomenting the controversy to distract from the real issues of the race, but did not issue a denial of Sandoval's claims.[34]


A speech given in February 2005 by Rep. Gibbons in Elko, Nevada was actually plagiarized from a copyrighted speech delivered in 2003 by then Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman at a "Stand up America" rally.[35]

Interference with an ongoing investigation

On August 3, 2007, the Las Vegas Review Journal printed the following:

A newly available document states that Gov. Jim Gibbons "has admitted" that he urged federal authorities to pursue criminal action against a software developer whose business dispute with a friend of Gibbons has prompted a federal investigation. The statement is made in a legal motion filed last year, but kept secret until Tuesday, when it was unsealed at a judge's order.[36]

Criticism, controversy and public opinion

Legal defense fund

Gibbons set up a legal defense fund just before the November, 2006 gubernatorial election to help pay for legal expenses incurred after a woman accused him of attempted sexual assault. Gibbons neither reported the legal defense fund to the appropriate U.S. House of Representatives committee (even though he was a sitting congressmen at the time and was required by House rules to do so), nor did he report donations to his legal defense fund as contributions to his gubernatorial campaign, citing the money was for "personal use" and not for "political purposes."[37]

In January 2008, it was reported that Gibbons raised $256,000 for his legal defense fund, including a $61,000 personal loan Gibbons gave to his own fund, as well as $10,000 from The Palms Hotel and Casino, and $40,000 from various companies connected to Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson.[38] The defense fund has spent money to defend Gibbons in a cases that include:

  • Investigations into the allegations that Gibbons secured defense contracts for his friend Warren Trepp in exchange for gifts and money
  • The nepotism scandal regarding Sierra Nevada Corporation's hire of Nevada first lady Dawn Gibbons as a consultan (Sierra Nevada paid her $35,000 at the same time Gibbons helped the company get a no-bid federal contract.)
  • Gibbons' alleged attempted sexual assault of a Las Vegas woman
  • An investigation into payment due an illegal immigrant as a nanny that Gibbons employed[39]

Mining industry donors

In November 2005, Gibbons and Representative Richard Pombo (R-CA) co-authored an amendment to the Federal Budget Reconciliation Bill easing restrictions of sale of federal lands to mining companies. This amendment attracted fire from environmentalists, anti-growth advocates, and even some Republican Senators[40] concerned about the measure's effects on hunting and fishing. Although the bill (and amendment) narrowly passed the House, the stated opposition of many Democratic Senators and the concerns voiced by Republican Senators make the amendment's future uncertain.

Mercury standards

Journalist Chris Mooney has criticized Gibbons for using rhetoric in place of sound science to base judgments, particularly in regard to a 2005 report Gibbons produced with Pombo that some saw as underplaying the effects of mercury poisoning.[41]

Public response

Gibbons was featured twice on Countdown with Keith Olbermann as the "Worst Person in the World." The first was on October 24th, 2006 for escorting a woman to her car after drinking with her, and then allegedly assaulting her. The second time was on April 12th, 2007 because he has been under FBI investigation for a no-bid contract to a long-time friend and campaign contributor.

Jim Gibbons was greeted with cat calls and boos at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas winter commencement ceremony. The graduating students were protesting Gibbon's proposed budget cuts for the University.[42]

Opinion polls

Source Date Approve Disapprove Undecided
Mason-Dixon / LVRJ poll June 13, 2008 21% (Excellent and Good) 74% (Fair and Poor) 5% (Undecided)
Mason-Dixon / LVRJ poll October 15, 2007 30% 29% 38%
Reno Gazette-Journal poll August 20, 2007 33% 49%
New York Times May 30, 2007 28%
Voter Survey Service March 17, 2007 29%

Beliefs and ideologies

Civil liberties

  • Rated 7% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil liberties voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)[43]


In January 2007, Governor Gibbons asked Nevada lawmakers to approve his budget that cut the percentage of education funding in Nevada to increase the percentage for public safety and human services programs.[44]

In 2008, Gibbons suggested that the Nevada legislature cut the state budget for elementary, secondary and higher education by 14%.[45][46][47][48][49] Jim Rogers, Nevada Chancellor for Education, said of the budget cuts, "We’re talking about something that is going to cripple us financially and competitively. The effects will be felt on our economy for the next 50 to 100 years."[50]

On education as a congressman
  • Rated 10% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education spending votes.[51]
  • Voted YES on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror.[52]
  • Voted YES on letting schools display the words "God Bless America."[53]
  • Supports a Constitutional Amendment for school prayer.[54]
  • Gibbons supports "No Child Left Behind."[55]

Nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain

Jim Gibbons approved a plan to let the U.S. Department of Energy use the state's water to explore the planned Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site.[56] According to the Las Vegas Sun, "Neither Gibbons nor his aides have offered public explanations for the governor’s perplexing moves. In particular, they have not explained how giving federal authorities more time to build a case for Yucca Mountain or appointing a Yucca advocate to the nuclear projects board could possibly be interpreted as being in line with the state’s opposition to the plan."[57] Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said "this amounts to surrendering in Nevada's decades-long fight against the project."[58] Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) said “This demonstrates to me that he either doesn’t know what he’s doing or he’s reversed his position.”[59]


Jim Gibbons pledged during his 1996 campaign for governor to not impose new taxes on businesses or individuals in Nevada.[60] Businesses asked for tax increases to pay for new roads in Nevada, but Gibbons did not acquiesce.[61]

In Congress
  • Voted YES on replacing illegal export tax breaks with $140B in new breaks. (Jun 2004)
  • Voted YES on Bankruptcy Overhaul requiring partial debt repayment. (Mar 2001)[62]

See also

External links

Template:Submint a leg link


  1. Nevada Appeal, "Gov. Gibbons files for re-election," March 12, 2010 Gov
  2. National Governors Association — Governor's Information: Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons (dead link)
  3. Inaccuracy Fixed: Gibbons Mystified by Inaccurate Listing — Las Vegas Review Journal 5/19/06
  4. Ely News (dead link)
  5. Ely News (dead link)
  6. Nevada Appeal
  7. http://nvsos.gov/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=1598
  8. "Nevada News Bureau," "Legislators React To Governor's Petition Drive To Create Transparency In Government Labor Negotiations," May 11, 2010
  9. The Las Vegas Review Journal
  10. USA Today
  11. Nevada governor files for divorce by Brendan Riley, The Orange County Register, Associated Press, May 2, 2008
  12. Nev. gov. sent 860 texts to woman in month news.yahoo.com
  13. Nevada Appeal
  14. A.P. News
  15. Editorial: Governor's Land Deal Las Vegas Review-Journal
  16. TPM Muckraker
  17. NY Times
  18. Las Vegas Review Journal
  19. TPM Muckraker
  20. NY Times
  21. Las Vegas Review Journal
  22. TPM Muckraker
  23. NY Times
  24. Las Vegas Review Journal
  25. TPM Muckraker
  26. NY Times
  27. Las Vegas Review Journal
  28. The Las Vegas Review Journal
  29. The Las Vegas Review Journal
  30. The Las Vegas Review Journal
  31. Reporter Steve Sebelius
  32. KLAS
  33. KLAS
  34. KLAS
  35. The Las Vegas Review Journal
  36. News Bank
  37. The Las Vegas Review Journal
  38. Gibbons' '07 legal defense funds: $256,000 - Money includes $61,000 personal loan from governor Las Vegas Review Journal
  39. Gibbons' '07 legal defense funds: $256,000 - Money includes $61,000 personal loan from governor Las Vegas Review-Journal
  40. Gov Exec
  41. Thank You for Polluting — Seed Magazine
  42. POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Gibbons greeted with catcalls at UNLV commencement: Budget-cutting plans draw boos by Molly Ball and Steve Tetrelault
  43. On the Issues
  44. KLAS-TV
  45. Next budget expected to be cut to the bone The Las Vegas Sun
  46. As troubles mount, Gibbons disengages The Las Vegas Sun
  47. Tension builds as Gibbons cloaks budget cuts in secrecy The Las Vegas Sun
  48. Gibbons calls for more Nevada budget cuts The Las Vegas Sun
  49. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2007/apr/03/gibbons-tax-breaks-run-smack-into-reality/ The Las Vegas Sun
  50. Rogers boils over: Chancellor says governor wounds education, won’t return his calls The Las Vegas Sun
  51. On the Issues
  52. On the Issues
  53. On the Issues
  54. On the Issues
  55. New York times
  56. State of Nevada Press Release (dead link)
  57. Las Vegas Sun
  58. Las Vegas Review Journal
  59. Las Vegas Sun
  60. Nevada Appeal
  61. Nevada Appeal
  62. On the Issues