Outgoing state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto told KNPR’s State of Nevada that she has not thought about running for governor. However, she did not rule out getting back into an elected office, if the right position became available.
The two-term attorney general has a new job as the second in command of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Her appointment came as a surprise to some regents. But, she will assume the role of executive vice chairman beginning next month once her term expires.
She told KNPR’s State of Nevada that her new position fits with a problem she has been looking to tackle, which is education.
She said that although she doesn’t have experience in academics, she feels comfortable with requirements of the job, including working with the leaders of higher education institutions and talking with Nevada lawmakers.
Catherine Cortez Masto will be replaced as attorney general by Republican Adam Laxalt who beat Democrat and Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller.
While Cortez Masto would not comment on whether Laxalt’s recent letter denouncing President Barack Obama’s executive order covering undocumented workers would put him at odds with Governor Brian Sandoval. She did say there is potential for conflict in the attorney general’s job because of the dual roles that you play.
“We’re the attorney for the governor. We provide advice like any attorney to their client,” she said, “But that’s a different hat that the attorney general wears as opposed to the consumer protection hat or the hat I wore representing the state when we were involved in litigation against the banks and Wall Street.”
That litigation ended up forcing Cortez Masto to make one of the biggest decision she had to make during her tenure: whether to sign a national mortgage fraud settlement.
The settlement, which was signed in 2012, involved billions of dollars and five major banks, but it also ended lawsuits filed against banks involved in subprime mortgages.
Cortez Masto said she had only two weeks to look at the proposed settlement and make a decision whether to sign it.
In the end, she decided to agree to the deal in order to get some relief for people hit hard by the collapse of the housing market.
“We felt it was better, for the homeowners, to sign onto this agreement and bring relief back here which we did,” Cortez Masto said.
Cortez Masto will now focus on improving the state’s higher education system.
Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada Attorney General
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