Las Vegas Now "Eyewitness News" - I-Team: Court Candidate Speaks on Corruption Investigation
Supreme Court candidate Kris Pickering is speaking publicly for the first time about what she says was a threat issued by her own campaign manager in confidential meetings. Pickering reported the threat to law enforcement, who continues to investigate.
In her first interview about the probe, Pickering confirmed to the I-Team that secret recordings were made and are now in the hands of the FBI.
The other people involved in this story have issued denials. Pickering's former campaign manager Gary Gray has denied delivering any threats to his candidate. Attorney Laura Fitzsimmons denied ever offering to put up money.
But we don't have to take Pickering's word for it, because when the key conversation occurred, the FBI and Metro heard and recorded every word.
"I feel I did the right thing in reporting it. I hope this stuff stops in Nevada. It needs to stop," she said.
Las Vegas attorney Kris Pickering knew she would get a crash course in politics during her first run for elected office, but never expected to see so much sleaze right out of the gate.
Back in June, Pickering heard an unusual proposal from one of her campaign managers, Gary Gray. Gray said that up to $200,000 would be put into her race for the Nevada Supreme Court, either for Pickering or against her.
If she didn't want the money to go to an opponent, Gray said, Pickering would have to agree to sign a letter removing herself from ever hearing a case involving the firm of Las Vegas lawyer Laura Fitzsimmons.
Pickering says she was appalled but that Gray returned the next day carrying a similar letter signed eight years ago by then Justice Bob Rose.
"When we got to this point in the conversation, what he said was, If you don't sign this letter, Fitzsimmons has bundled $200,000 and that will be put up against you.' I reported this to the authorities," she said.
FBI Agents and Metro Detectives began an investigation. A search warrant was served at Gary Gray's office to retrieve the letter signed by Bob Rose.
No charges have been filed, but since the I-Team broke the story last week, Gray has said he was merely advising his client what was going on in the political world, not advocating that she sign the letter. Lawyer Laura Fitzsimmons has denied ever offering money to Pickering's campaign.
But there's something neither of them knew -- when Gray returned to Pickering's office for a third meeting about the proposal, the place was wired. Law enforcement was recording every word.
"This was a threat?" asked Knapp.
"This absolutely was a threat. I cooperated with the authorities and Gray came back at my invitation and it was recorded -- the terms of the threat against me and my campaign. I've stood up for what is right and ethical and legal and I think it is time we stop this kind of underhanded secret special interest activity in our judiciary," said Pickering. "I think it was illegal. I think it was an effort to stack the court and to get special favors and special treatment that other litigants and other parties don't get, and I'm not going to put up with it. Nevada does not need any more judicial corruption and that's what this was. Make no mistake about it."
No charges have been filed and law enforcement sources say they are not sure a crime was committed since Pickering was only a candidate, not an elected official, when the proposal was delivered to her.