Complaint alleges Wolfson violating ethics law by appearing in daughter’s campaign ad

By: - May 16, 2024 1:05 pm

District Attorney Steve Wolfson in a campaign ad for his daugher, who is running for a judicial seat.

A complaint filed with the Nevada Ethics Commission against Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson alleges Wolfson violated state law by appearing in a campaign ad for his daughter, Rebecca, a candidate in the race for Las Vegas Municipal Judge. 

The district attorney, in the ad that is running on television and on social media, declares his daughter will be “a great Municipal Court Judge.” He is identified not as the district attorney, but rather as “Rebecca’s father”. 

Steve Wolfson did not respond to a request for comment. 

“This doesn’t have anything to do with Rebecca’s campaign,” Roger Kaplan, a longtime Las Vegas resident who filed the complaint, told the Current during an interview. “This is about Steve Wolfson violating the ethics laws of the state of Nevada.”

In the complaint, Kaplan alleges the “DA’s appearance and testimonial for his daughter are a violation of NRS 281.400(2),” which says a public officer shall not use their position “to secure or grant unwarranted privileges to …. any person to whom the public officer or employee has a commitment in a private capacity.” 

That includes close relatives.

“Steve Wolfson is using his office as a district attorney, the top attorney in the county, to blatantly secure a good paying range and prestige for his daughter,” Kaplan said. 

The complaint notes Rebecca Wolfson earns $110,699 in her current job as Deputy City Attorney II, about half as much as a municipal judge. 

In 2004, the Ethics Commission found then-Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman “used his position as Mayor to secure or grant unwarranted privileges or advantages for his son, Ross Goodman, a person to whose interests he has a commitment in a private capacity,” by lending his name to the invitation for a cocktail party sponsored by Ross Goodman’s company at the National Conference of Mayors. Goodman appealed and the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the finding. 

“I recall thinking that if that’s not using his position to further a pecuniary interest of a person to which he has a commitment in a private capacity, I don’t know what is,” says Caren Jenkins, vice-chair of the Ethics Commission at the time. “He was an elected public officer and was a member of the organization’s leadership in his capacity as Mayor of Las Vegas, and though his words seemed benign, I don’t think Ross’ company would be sponsoring a reception had his dad not been a mayor…” 

Jenkins says her initial conclusion is that Wolfson “appearing in an ad as a proud dad is not using his position in government to benefit a member of his family.It may smell a little bad, but I wouldn’t see it as a rotting fish.”

Kaplan says he intends to amend his complaint to include an ad for a January fundraiser for Rebecca Wolfson, hosted by “District Attorney Steve Wolfson.”

A 2005 opinion from the Ethics Commission regarding a public official whose spouse was seeking office, notes “in an effort to avoid any appearance of impropriety,” the public official decided not to fundraise on behalf of his spouse. “The Commission supports Public Officer’s decision to refrain from soliciting campaign contributions on behalf of spouse and renders no further opinion on the issue. “

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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