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AG Laxalt Joined Immigration-Order Lawsuit Without Governor's Support

Attorney General Adam Laxalt
The Ralston Report


When Governor Brian Sandoval won his election in November, he celebrated with Republicans, but not just because of his own victory.

Benefiting from the lowest Democratic voter turnout since 1978, Republicans also took the state Assembly and Senate. They swept every executive branch seat, including installing a virtual unknown, Adam Laxalt, into the attorney general’s office.

If this was the governor’s wish come true, well, be careful what you wish for.

First, a power-struggle among Assembly Republicans is putting the governor’s budget proposal at risk. And now Attorney General Laxalt appears, as political columnist Jon Ralston put it, to be “going rogue.”

Laxalt works for the governor but his decision to join 26 other states in the lawsuit against the Obama administration isn’t exactly what Governor Sandoval wants. The lawsuit challenges President Barack Obama's executive order, which deferred deportation for undocumented immigrants.

The governor’s spokesperson told the Las Vegas Sun, “(Gov. Sandoval) believes our immigration system is broken and it is without question that comprehensive reform is necessary… He continues to believe that the best course of action is a legislative solution rather than legal action.”

Steve Sebelius, political columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, told KNPR's State of Nevada that Laxalt's move stirs up the question of who is the AG's client. 

“Who is the attorney general’s client in this case? Is it the state of Nevada? And if it is the state of Nevada, then why wasn't the governor's opinion at least sought before the attorney general filed this lawsuit,” Sebelius said.

He said the state does not have a "unique interest" in the case. Similarly, former AG Catherine Cortez Mastos refused to join a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act because she didn't feel that Nevada had a unique interest in the case.

Sebelius also believes the decision could hurt Republican efforts to court Latinos in the next election. 

“This will be portrayed as another Republican trying to thwart a Democrat who is trying to do something on immigration,” Sebelius said.

He believes Gov. Sandoval will not the be the last Republican in Nevada who will try to distance themselves from Laxalt's decision.

The latest move does show the cracks in the Republican Party in Nevada, which is something that Sebelius said even Gov. Sandoval will struggle with.

“I don’t know if there is anyone, even someone with the incredible political skills of Brian Sandoval, who could necessarily wrangle in all the people in this party.”


Steve Sebelius, columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Copyright 2015 KNPR-FM. To see more, visit

Steve Sebelius, columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Copyright 2015 KNPR-FM. To see more, visit

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