|28th Governor of Nevada|
January 1, 2007 – January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Kenny Guinn|
|Succeeded by||Brian Sandoval|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Nevada's 2nd district
January 3, 1997 – December 31, 2006
|Preceded by||Barbara Vucanovich|
|Succeeded by||Dean Heller|
|Member of the Nevada Assembly|
November 4, 1992 – November 3, 1994
|Preceded by||Bob Kerns|
|Succeeded by||Brian Sandoval|
April 16, 1991 – November 3, 1992
|Preceded by||Dawn Gibbons|
|Succeeded by||Richard Perkins|
November 9, 1988 – January 17, 1991
|Preceded by||David D. Nicholas|
|Succeeded by||Dawn Gibbons|
James Arthur Gibbons
December 16, 1944
Sparks, Nevada, U.S.
(m. 1985; div. 2010)
|Education||University of Nevada, Reno (BS, MS)|
Southwestern University, California (JD)
|Branch/service||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1967–1971|
|Unit||Air National Guard|
• Nevada Air National Guard
|Awards||Legion of Merit|
Distinguished Flying Cross
James Arthur Gibbons (born December 16, 1944) is an American attorney, aviator, geologist, hydrologist and politician who was the 28th Governor of Nevada from 2007 to 2011. A member of the Republican Party, he was previously the U.S. representative for Nevada's 2nd congressional district from 1997 to 2006.
Gibbons was born in Sparks, Nevada. Gibbons interrupted his studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, during the Vietnam War to serve in the United States Air Force (1967–1971). He also attended Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California and the University of Southern California for post-graduate studies. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College, he joined the Nevada Air National Guard in 1975 and served as its vice commander from 1990 to 1996, participating in the first Gulf War. During his military career, Gibbons earned nineteen service medals, including the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross. In civilian life, he has worked as a lawyer in private practice, an airline pilot for both Western Airlines and Delta Air Lines, and as a hydrologist and a geologist.
Gibbons represented District 23, later renumbered as District 25 (Washoe County), in the Nevada Assembly from 1988 to 1994 (with a short intermission due to military service in 1991). Gibbons won his first election with approximately 64% of the vote and thereafter faced no opposition due to the heavy Republican lean of the district. During this time he and his Nevada Air National Guard unit was called to active service in the U.S. Air Force for the Gulf War. During this period, he served as a pilot and Flight Leader flying the RF-4C Phantom II reconnaissance aircraft. During the conflict, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in a mission in which he flew his unarmed aircraft on a reconnaissance mission to acquire politically sensitive imagery of enemy targets in Kuwait.
Main article: 1994 Nevada gubernatorial election
While working as a pilot for Delta Air Lines and serving in the Nevada Assembly, Gibbons ran for Nevada governor in 1994. As the Republican nominee, he lost to Democratic incumbent Bob Miller, having received 156,875 votes to Miller's 200,026.
In 1996, Barbara Vucanovich, the only representative that the 2nd District had known since Nevada was split into districts in 1983, announced her retirement. Gibbons won the Republican primary—the real contest in this heavily Republican district—and breezed to victory in November. He was reelected four times with no substantive opposition, including a 1998 run in which he faced no major-party opposition.
Gibbons served as vice chairman of the House Resources Committee, and he was a member of the Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His long-time congressional Chief of Staff, Michael Dayton, was replaced in 2002 by legislative director Robert Uithoven. Uithoven served on Gibbons' staff for many years, including four years as chief of staff. He later served as campaign manager for Gibbons' successful 2006 Gubernatorial campaign. Uithoven was not given a gubernatorial position. His predecessor, Michael Dayton, was named as the governor's top aide.
Main article: 2006 Nevada gubernatorial election
Gibbons announced in late 2004 that he would not run for a sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, instead opting to run for Governor of Nevada. Gibbons won the August 15, 2006, Republican primary handily, defeating state senator Bob Beers and Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt.
As Gibbons was campaigning for governor in October 2006, it was brought to light that more than ten years earlier, his wife Dawn had employed Martha Patricia Pastor Sandoval, a then-illegal immigrant from Peru, as a housekeeper and babysitter. Since the Nannygate matter of 1993, politicians have been deeply concerned about the impact of such revelations on their careers.
Dawn, who had become a member of the Nevada Assembly in 1998, denied the allegations in 2006, claiming that Sandoval had merely been a friend who had helped out around the house and was given clothing and household goods, but was not an employee. An employment contract between Dawn Gibbons and Sandoval, however, appeared to disprove that assertion, as it clearly laid out the terms and conditions of Sandoval's hiring. Documents filed during Sandoval's 1988 application for working papers also contradicted earlier statements by Dawn Gibbons that the family had not known that the woman was in the United States illegally.
Sandoval stated that she was employed from approximately 1987 to 1993, four years before Gibbons left for Washington in 1997, after his 1996 election as a Congressman and five years before Dawn Gibbons became a state legislator. Sandoval also stated that she was asked to hide in the basement and refrain from answering doors at certain times in order to ensure that her illegal status did not become public knowledge and jeopardize Gibbons' political career.
In 1995, Dawn Gibbons filed a police complaint against Sandoval, alleging that she was attempting to extort money by threatening to go to the media with a story involving her illegal employment. Jim and Dawn Gibbons did not pursue the matter further.
In response to the 2006 revelations, Jim Gibbons' campaign issued a statement accusing Democratic candidate Dina Titus of fomenting the controversy to distract from the real issues of the race, but did not issue a denial of Sandoval's claims.
In October 2006, near the conclusion of his successful campaign for governor, a woman accused Gibbons of attempted sexual assault in a parking garage. Gibbons claimed he was helping her to her car. They both admitted to drinking alcohol at McCormick and Schmick's restaurant in Las Vegas.
In the initial aftermath of the event, Clark County Sheriff Bill Young, a Republican and long time supporter and donor of Gibbons' gubernatorial campaign, cited lack of evidence in the case and refused to bring evidence of the attack to the District Attorney. The accuser did not initially want to pursue pressing charges, saying she just wanted "to be left alone." But the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was forced to open the case after inquiries by the Las Vegas media, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Sun which also drew controversy by releasing the woman's name and thrust her into the public eye.
She later said she was being pressured to not talk to the police about the incident by people close to Gibbons. In fact, the Gibbons campaign hired a private investigator to talk to the woman shortly after the incident occurred.
The evidence was given to Clark County District Attorney David Roger, a Republican, who had also donated to the Gibbons campaign. Criminal charges were never filed in the case.
Gibbons' gubernatorial campaign manager, Robert Uithoven, speculated in an e-mail to Gibbons' supporters that Dina Titus, Gibbons' opponent, hired the woman to entice Gibbons. Titus retorted that to do this she would have had to control where Gibbons went, who he was with, and even the weather (Gibbons claimed he was helping the woman to her car in part because of the weather).
By 2009, the alleged victim had filed a civil suit against Jim Gibbons, specifically alleging battery, false imprisonment and second-degree kidnapping as well as deceit about the episode. The lawsuit was settled in July 2013 for $50,000.
On November 1, 2006, The Wall Street Journal published a story stating that Gibbons had earmarked several millions of dollars to a company owned by Warren Trepp, the former chief bond trader for Michael Milken at the height of his junk bond trading period at Drexel Burnham Lambert. The Journal also said that Gibbons had directed additional funds to a pre-existing government contract with Trepp's startup company. The report noted that Trepp had paid for a $10,000 cruise for Gibbons and his wife, which Gibbons failed to report in his U.S. House of Representatives ethics filings, and $100,000 in campaign contributions. Dennis L. Montgomery, a former Trepp business partner, claimed that Gibbons was also given gambling chips – convertible into cash – and cash directly.
On February 15, 2007, the Journal reported that Gibbons was under federal investigation for allegedly accepting unreported gifts and/or payments from Trepp in exchange for official acts while he served in Congress (1997–2007).
According to reports, on March 22, 2005, days before Trepp and his wife left for the Caribbean cruise with Gibbons and his family, Jalé Trepp, Warren's wife, sent a reminder to her husband. It said, "Please don't forget to bring the money you promised Jim and Dawn (Gibbons)." Minutes later, Trepp responded, "Don't you ever send this kind of message to me! Erase this message from your computer right now!"
The ethics probe into Gibbons expanded to include another company that paid Gibbons' wife Dawn $35,000 in consulting fees in 2004, while Gibbons helped the company receive a no-bid federal contract.
The U.S. Attorney for Nevada at time of the investigation was Republican Daniel Bogden, who had been appointed by Republican President George W. Bush in 2001. Bogdan was one of seven federal prosecutors dismissed by the Bush in December 2006 without explanation.
In the general election he faced Democratic nominee Dina Titus, who was the Minority Leader in the Nevada State Senate. Gibbons received 278,984 votes to Titus's 255,675. Titus won Clark County, Nevada's most populous, but Gibbons won every other county. Gibbons called Titus "an admirable opponent", although Titus declined to echo his sentiments, saying "We disagree on basic policies, and neither one of us is going to change our minds for the other".
Gibbons resigned his House seat on New Year's Eve, and was sworn in as governor just after midnight on New Year's Day.
Main article: 2010 Nevada gubernatorial election
Gibbons was the subject of numerous controversies, both professional and personal, causing speculation that he would not seek re-election for a second term as governor. However, Gibbons did file as a candidate for re-election in March 2010. On June 9, 2010, he lost his bid for nomination in the Republican primary to former federal judge Brian Sandoval—who went on to win the general election and become the 29th governor of Nevada.
In July 2007, Gibbons approved a plan to let the U.S. Department of Energy use the state's water to explore the planned Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site. According to the Las Vegas Sun, "Neither Gibbons nor his aides have offered public explanations for the governor's perplexing moves. In particular, they have not explained how giving federal authorities more time to build a case for Yucca Mountain or appointing a Yucca advocate to the nuclear projects board could possibly be interpreted as being in line with the state's opposition to the plan." Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said "this amounts to surrendering in Nevada's decades-long fight against the project". Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) said "This demonstrates to me that he either doesn't know what he's doing or he's reversed his position."
During an April 23, 2010, debate for the Republican gubernatorial primary, Gibbons further confused his actual stance on Yucca Mountain by taking positions both favoring and opposing the federal waste dump over a two-minute period of time. "Gibbons then said he believed nuclear waste can be transported safely and that 'I can tell you, you can store it safely.'" However, when questioned by the moderator, Gibbons said he supported shutting down the Yucca Mountain facility.
In August 2007, Gibbons unsuccessfully attempted to obtain reimbursement from the Mexican government for the health care expenses of Mexican nationals.[failed verification]
See also: 2008 Nevada budget crisis
In October 2007, Gibbons proposed cutting funding for state services by 5% and ordered state agencies to submit lists of the services to be cut. Among the state agencies that were ordered to cut their budgets were the Nevada System of Higher Education, Nevada Department of Taxation, child welfare agencies and the juvenile justice agency. Gibbons expected an 80 million dollar cut to come directly from the Health and Human services agency alone. Most of these agencies refused to submit revised budgets to Governor Gibbons, citing already "threadbare" budgets. The Nevada Department of Taxation closed the Elko, Nevada tax office in June 2010 in response to the requested cuts.
On November 21, 2007, Gibbons revised his proposal upward for cutting state budgets. Nevada agencies were then told to plan for 8% cuts.
In 2008, Gibbons suggested that the Nevada legislature cut the state budget for elementary, secondary and higher education by 14%., Jim Rogers, Nevada Chancellor for Education, said of the budget cuts, "We're talking about something that is going to cripple us financially and competitively. The effects will be felt on our economy for the next 50 to 100 years.". The Nevada Policy Research Institute criticized the governor's office for the budget, when the administration claimed that the state was facing a crisis, despite a 1% decrease in state spending.
Gibbons set up a legal defense fund just before the November, 2006 gubernatorial election to help pay for legal expenses incurred after a woman accused him of attempted sexual assault. Gibbons neither reported the legal defense fund to the appropriate U.S. House of Representatives committee (even though he was a sitting congressman at the time and was required by House rules to do so), nor did he report donations to his legal defense fund as contributions to his gubernatorial campaign, citing the money was for "personal use" and not for "political purposes".
In January 2008, it was reported that Gibbons raised $256,000 for his legal defense fund during 2007, including a $61,000 personal loan Gibbons gave to his own fund, as well as $10,000 from the Palms Casino Resort, and $40,000 from various companies connected to Las Vegas Sands Corporation Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson. The defense fund has spent money to defend Gibbons in cases which include:
On August 3, 2007, the Las Vegas Review-Journal printed the following:
A newly available document states that Gov. Jim Gibbons "has admitted" that he urged federal authorities to pursue criminal action against a software developer whose business dispute with a friend of Gibbons has prompted a federal investigation. The statement is made in a legal motion filed last year, but kept secret until Tuesday, when it was unsealed at a judge's order.
The United States investigated Dennis Montgomery, the subject of the complaint by Governor Gibbons, was convicted and sent to Federal Prison for fraud.
In 2007, Gibbons and his wife Dawn purchased 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land in the ranch country near Lamoille, Nevada, approximately 20 miles South of Elko, Nevada. The land belonged to former Nevada Judge Jerry Carr Whitehead. The Elko County Assessor said he felt pressure from the governor, governor's lawyer and a member of the Nevada Tax Commission to lower the tax liability. Under state law, such an agricultural tax break goes only to legitimate farm and ranch operations, and must generate at least $5,000 a year in income. If such a land is developed by million-dollar homes, property taxes would go up. "To say I was put in an awkward position I think is an understatement", Joe Aguirre, a Republican, told The Associated Press in 2008. The opinion page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal said on the allegations that the deal might constitute fraud. Aguirre later admitted that his previous statements were made up on the Las Vegas Sun saying that he wasn't pressured into Gibbons tax break by Gibbons himself. The land deal was given to Gibbons himself after he finalized the divorce from his wife.
While the state faced an economic slowdown and steep budget cuts, Gibbons faced criticism from officials for spending less time at his office. The Las Vegas Sun reviewed Gibbons' attendance and discovered that he was only in his Capitol office five days in August 2008 and never for a full eight hours. In September, he was in his office a total of seven days.
In an interview with Las Vegas Sun reporters, Gibbons said "I never knew this job had a time frame on it that requires me to be sitting behind a desk at a certain hour." He also said that he works about 60 hours a week for the state. Previous Nevada governors were also interviewed and they said that they felt it was necessary that they spent most of their time in the office.
Gibbons' dedication to his office was called into question again six months later. On April 2, 2009, while appearing before a legislative panel to promote his renewable energy bill, Gibbons pulled out his cellphone and began texting. News stories used this incident to revisit the 860 messages he sent to his alleged paramour, and a 37-second video of him introducing himself to the panel, with a 17-second break in order to send the text message and refocus on the hearing was posted on YouTube.
Polling conducted in June 2008 indicated an all-time low 10% approval rating, with 59% disapproving by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Prior to running for Governor of Nevada, Gibbons signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge (tax pledge) that is promoted at the national level by Americans for Tax Reform and at the state level by Citizen Outreach PAC—whose CEO is Chuck Muth. On at least three separate occasions, Americans for Tax Reform and/or Muth took Gibbons to task for breaking the tax pledge. Each time, in addition to the actual violation of the pledge, they had to correct the record about Gibbons' "misinformation", "fibs", "falsehoods" and "doublespeak".
Muth even went as far to say "the non-stop parsing and telling of falsehoods about breaking the Pledge are worse than breaking the Pledge itself".
In its April 2010 report, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a left-of-center organization, named Gibbons one of 11 "worst governors" in the United States because of various ethics issues throughout Gibbons term as governor and his time in Congress. Some of Gibbons' ethics lapses cited by CREW include:
In January 2007, Gibbons asked Nevada lawmakers to approve his budget that cut the percentage of education funding in Nevada to increase the percentage for public safety and human services programs.
In 2008, Gibbons suggested that the Nevada legislature cut the state general fund budget for elementary, secondary and higher education by 14% (this does not include federal or local revenues, or funds for construction or teacher pensions). Jim Rogers, former attorney, Nevada System of Higher Education interim chancellor, founder of the Intermountain West Communications Company and station owner of NBC affiliate KVBC (now KSNV), said of the budget cuts, "We're talking about something that is going to cripple us financially and competitively. The effects will be felt on our economy for the next 50 to 100 years.".
Gibbons pledged during his 1994 campaign for governor to not impose new taxes on businesses or individuals in Nevada. Gibbons broke his tax pledge on several occasions. The state's Business Tax on employer's payrolls which was initiated in 1992 was increased under Gibbon's term and renamed the "Modified Business Tax". Various mandatory fees and licenses administered by the Nevada Department of Taxation were also significantly increased under Gibbon's term. Most particularly was the State of Nevada's yearly business license fee. This license fee was doubled from $100.00 to $200.00. Due to the additional tax burden of the increased Modified Business Tax on Nevada's small businesses during a downward business cycle, this tax was readjusted to a lesser rate by the 2011 Nevada legislative session during the leadership of Governor Brian Sandoval who later broke his promises on not raising fees and taxes in 2015.
It was also discovered during the 2011 Nevada Legislative hearings that the Nevada Department of Taxation's director, Dino DiCianno, never had the Tax Department under Gibbon's leadership conduct Net Proceeds of Minerals (NPM) tax audits of mining operations within Nevada. DiCianno's claim was that the Tax Department did not have qualified auditors capable of performing NPM audits. During Gibbon's term market prices of precious minerals were at historical and significant high levels. The market selling price of Gold was in the $1,300 to $1,500+ per ounce range during Gibbon's term. Gibbons was also a geologist and lawyer.
During Gibbons term Nevada lead North America in Gold and Silver production. Also Nevada was ranked No. 3 in the world for Gold production. After Mr. DiCianno's testimony to the Nevada legislature that no NPM audits were conducted while Gibbon's was governor he resigned the following day. Governor Sandoval latter appointed William Chissel, a CPA with an auditing background as the replacement director of the Nevada Tax Department.
In the release of the Nevada's Department of Taxation's annual report in January 2012 which represented the fiscal year of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, it was presented that the audit penetration rate (percentage of Nevada taxpayers audited of the total population of registered Nevada businesses) was the lowest amount in 6 years. The Tax Department during this 6-year period in the years 2006 and 2007, made a significant investment in new tax administration and audit software along with employee training to provide increased efficiency and audit performance. Accenture Consulting Services formerly a unit of Arthur Anderson & Co. was selected to design and implement the tax administration software. Revenue Solutions Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts was selected as a subcontractor by Accenture to design and implement the tax auditing software system.
Approximately $40,000,000.00 was invested in new tax administration and audit software. The results of this investment after implementation of this system as shown in Tax Department's annual reports (2008, 2009, 2010) have been abysmal.
During the first full year of leadership under the new director William Chissel, the Tax Department was fraught with turmoil and discontent. Chissel exited the director's position and was replaced by a former deputy attorney general assigned to the department, Christopher G. Nielsen. Nielsen assumed the executive director's duties on July 1, 2012. Mr. Nielsen was previously a deputy director of the Tax Department and was also an acting director after the termination of Dino DiCianno. Nielsen was in the position of acting director for several months prior to the appointment of William Chissel as executive director.
|None of These Candidates||None of These Candidates||20,699||3.56%||-1.14%|
|Independent American||Christopher H. Hansen||20,019||3.44%||+2.04%|
He married Dawn Gibbons in 1985; they have a son, born in 1987. Dawn Gibbons did not move to Washington to live with her husband while he served in Congress, saying she preferred to raise their son in Nevada. She herself was elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1998, two years after Jim Gibbons was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. On May 2, 2008, Gibbons filed for divorce, citing grounds of incompatibility stemming from an undisclosed event in Reno, Nevada and requesting the court to determine whether Gibbons or his wife would live at the governor's mansion.
In April 2009, Gibbons was living in Reno; his wife, Dawn, remained in the governor's mansion in Carson City. An 1866 state law requires that governor must "keep his office and reside at the seat of government". A spokesman for Gibbons described the move by the governor back to the couple's Reno home, which they had owned since 1989, as a temporary situation and said there was no violation of the law.
In January 2010, the couple negotiated and completed an out-of-court divorce agreement. The divorce was finalized on July 21, 2010.