Las Vegas police have confirmed they are investigating allegations of corruption in the Nevada Legislature involving an extortion attempt aimed at a Republican assemblyman who has drawn criticism from more conservative lawmakers.
Assemblyman Chris Edwards of Las Vegas was identified as the alleged victim in the case in a statement released Saturday by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Section.
Detectives served a search warrant Saturday morning at a Las Vegas residence as part of an investigation that began in December when Edwards was "approached about changing his official vote for Assembly speaker," police said.
"This is an ongoing investigation, and no arrests have been made at this time," the statement said. "No other details are available at this time."
Edwards, a decorated veteran who served 25 years in the U.S. Navy, was elected to the District 19 seat in November after the incumbent Republican Cresent Hardy decided to run for Congress and unexpectedly unseated Democratic Rep. Stephen Horsford.
Edwards said in a statement Saturday that he can't comment on the investigation itself "because it is wide ranging and still ongoing." But he praised the swift response on the part of law enforcement.
"As unpleasant as it has been to learn about the people involved in this investigation, it is nice to see how swiftly and professionally the Criminal Intelligence Unit has worked to protect the integrity of our system of government. The residents of Clark County should be proud to know these people are protecting us," Edwards said.
"Since the November election we have seen a lot of political hype about recalls and 'holding people accountable.' It is nice to see that many of those people will soon be held accountable for their hypocritical actions," he added.
GOP infighting over the speaker's seat and other issues has plagued Republicans as they prepare to open the Legislature on Monday with a majority in both the Senate and Assembly for the first time since 1985.
Last week, the Clark County Republican Party filed a complaint accusing a conservative PAC of illegally using contributions to finance efforts to recall some Republican lawmakers, including Edwards and Assembly Speaker-designate John Hambrick.
Since his election, Edwards has sided with more moderate leaders in the rift with conservatives, including anti-tax GOP Assemblywoman Michele Fiore. She was removed from her position as majority leader and taxation committee chair in December amid reports that the IRS had filed hundreds of thousands of dollars in liens against her in the past decade.
The Assembly GOP original had elected another conservative, Ira Hansen, as speaker. But he resigned the post in December in a flap over columns he had written over the years for the Sparks Tribune. The Reno-Sparks NAACP said the writings discussing race, sexual orientation and gender were evidence of Hansen's long history of racial insensitivity and bigotry.
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