The man Chris Edwards (R-NVAD19) accused of trying to extort his vote for Majority Speaker of the House in the 2015 Nevada State Assembly has been indicted on 11 felony counts by a Clark County Grand Jury. Based on that, Clark County District Judge David Barker issued a warrant for the arrest of Tony Dane on Thursday, May 26.
Edwards told the Mesquite Local News he was pressured to vote for a different candidate for the Speaker’s seat “but when that didn’t work the other side took steps including illegal extortion. As soon as those activities began, I immediately called the authorities in to make sure they were punished for their activities.” Edwards said the extortion activities began as soon as three weeks after he was officially elected in November 2014.
Dane operates a robocalling business in Virginia and is a longtime Republican activist in Nevada. Charges against him include one count of extortion, one count of perjury, seven counts of unlawful interception of wire communications and one count of offering a false instrument for filing or record and uttering a false document.
Edwards said he contacted the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Criminal Intelligence Unit in December 2014 who conducted an investigation into Dane and others including Ron Lauer who Edwards said made the initial offer to him to change his vote. He alleges the group wanted him to vote for Assemblyman John Ellison from northern Nevada rather than John Hambrick from Las Vegas.
Edwards said that after he resisted the pressure, the group behind it including Dane began a recall campaign before Edwards officially took his seat in the Legislative session. Edwards also said he believes that based on documents and audio recordings and official affidavits made by Metro Police that the mastermind behind the effort was Assemblyman Brent Jones (R-NV-AD35) who also owns a Las Vegas business Real Water.
Jones has not been charged in this case.
Edwards said other republican assemblymen were targeted including Hambrick, Derek Armstrong, Paul Anderson, Stephen Silberkraus, James Oscarson and Dave Gardner. Edwards said four of the felony charges are based on Danes’ illegal wiretapping of several of them but didn’t say which ones.
Edwards said the group offered him “considerable sums of money, up to and including $3 to $4 million for a later congressional run. It was a clear cut quid pro quo with a lot of strings attached.” Edwards said that information came out in the grand jury testimony.
He added that the pressure, threats and attack tactics stepped up in January 2015 just before the legislative session began. “On the police recordings, Tony Dane offered $40,000 to eliminate my campaign debt if I would change my vote. He said multiple times that he would pull off the attack dogs, give me money and down the road would provide me millions of dollars for a congressional campaign. They also offered to establish a new veterans committee in the Assembly and make me the chairman,” Edwards said.
In addition to Dane and Jones, Edwards alleges that Laurel Fee and Chuck Muth, both major influences in state republican politics, were also players in the extortion scheme although Dane is the only one charged.
“They guaranteed that if I did not cooperate they would use all this money against me in order to unseat me and make sure I didn’t serve in public office again,” he said. “There was a carrot and also a major stick.”
In 2015 Metro Police detectives sought search warrants through the Clark County District Attorney and District Court judges for execution in three states – Nevada, Utah, where Dane has computer servers for his business, and Virginia where Dane lives and operates his business. The case went to the grand jury in January of this year.
Edwards said he employed Dane’s company in 2012 for robocall services when he ran for the Congressional District #1 but never since. His campaign contributions and expense report from 2014 and 2016 do not show any contributions or expenses towards Dane. His largest campaign contribution in 2014 was from the Sandoval for Governor campaign worth $5,000.
Edwards’ opponent in the AD19 republican primary Connie Foust paid Tony Dane & Associates in Virginia $506.08 on March 22 according to her official campaign contributions and expense reports. She also reported an in-kind contribution worth $960 from Jones’ company for cases of Real Water used in advertising.
Foust told the MLN that “an indictment is not proof of guilt. I hold my opinion until the trial. I find it interesting about the timing of this indictment a week before the election. I find that political.”
She added that “I had nothing to do with this. I did use Dane for robocalling and for polling as did Chris Edwards. I am running as a conservative. Brent Jones is running as a conservative. He helped me with my campaign as fellow conservatives do. I am tired of Edwards bringing Mesquite under scrutiny with nothing proven. I know very little about any of this. I am running to stop corruption within our government.”
“I am ecstatic that we have cleared this hurdle in the legal system to have these criminals prosecuted as they should be,” Edwards told the MLN. “I compliment the police, the DA’s office and the grand jury for all their efforts. They have done a great service to the community. I said I would hold people accountable for their wrongdoing and I did that from the get-go.”
“They crossed the line several times that took this out of the realm of mere politics into illegal activity,” Edwards said. “I could only see one course of action from the beginning of this ordeal and that’s the course I took.”