- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Court-authorized wiretaps were used to monitor phone calls during the 120-day Nevada Legislature in a criminal probe spurred by allegations that a political consultant tried to bribe at least one state lawmaker, Las Vegas police acknowledged Friday.

“This is a complex, sensitive investigation,” the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement issued four days after the legislative session ended. It said people whose calls were intercepted would be notified during the next week by the Clark County district attorney’s office.

No members of the Nevada Legislature are targets of this investigation, the statement said.

“Receipt of a notification letter does not necessarily mean that a person or entity is a target of the investigation or even involved at all,” it said, calling it inevitable that there would be unanswered questions. “In an effort to be thorough, every viable lead has been pursued.”

Police would say no more publicly, said Officer Laura Meltzer, a department spokeswoman.

The investigation became public days before the Legislature began Feb. 1, when police served warrants at a Virginia home belonging to political consultant and robo-call business owner Tony Dane, and at a home in Las Vegas.

Assemblyman Chris Edwards, a freshman Republican and decorated U.S. military veteran, said at the time the investigation focused on an attempt to get him to change his vote for Assembly speaker. The contentious vote for the most powerful Assembly member in the GOP majority Legislature exposed a rift between moderate Republicans including Edwards and more conservative party members.

Las Vegas police in February called the investigation an extortion case.

Dane operates a company, Dane & Associates, and his CRC Political Action Committee has been allied with the conservative elements of the party.

Dane’s lawyer, David Otto, said Friday that Dane has done nothing wrong and accused police of using wiretaps to intimidate his client and public officials. “Metro did this only to interfere with the political process,” Otto said.

Police lawyers have dismissed Otto’s protests as baseless conspiracy theories. They insist the investigation is being handled professionally and discretely, with advice from Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. Wolfson didn’t immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

“A primary objective of the investigation has been to determine the facts without affecting the integrity of the legislative process,” the police department statement said.

Dane runs a political consulting business that uses automated phone calls, commonly dubbed robo-calls, to reach voters to support or oppose candidates and issues. Otto said police have also raided a Salt Lake City property that Dane used for his automated calling business.

Otto said that Dane has First Amendment rights to pursue his political activities.

“There’s no bribery. There’s no extortion. It’s political maneuvering to offer support if you support a position,” Otto said. “They talk about money. They talk about support for future campaigns. They talk about recall efforts. If they’re guilty of bribery or extortion, then every donor and every politician in the country is guilty.”

In court documents, Otto has said Dane and others began in November 2014 to talk about mounting a recall against Edwards, and that state Assemblyman John Moore told police that Edwards offered to trade his vote for Assembly speaker for money.

Moore has recalled speaking with Edwards around Thanksgiving about supporting conservative Republican positions.

Edwards says he never offered to sell his vote to anyone for anything.

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