DECISION 2018: Bitter Democratic primary for Nevada governor takes personal turn
The contentious Democratic primary race for Nevada governor has taken a personal turn, with a recent attack ad accusing one candidate of protecting some sex offenders.
With one week left until Election Day, Clark County commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani are locked in a tight race that has featured nasty attack ads from both sides.
But in the past week, the race became even more bitter. A 30-second commercial airing statewide accuses Giunchigliani of 'singlehandedly protecting perverts,' referencing her work on a 2005 bill back when she was a state assemblywoman.
The commercial cites a recent story first reported by the Reno Gazette Journal.
On Monday, Giunchigliani responded with an intensely personal commercial detailing her own sexual abuse at the hands of a family member.
"An eight-year-old girl was sexually abused for over a year," Giunchigliani said in the ad. "Her sister was kidnapped, held in a trailer and raped for three days. I'm Chris G. And that eight-year-old girl was me."
"Now Steve Sisolak says I let child molesters go free? It's untrue and offensive."
The initial ad was not bought by Steve Sisolak's campaign. It was bought by the political action committee Nevada Leads, which is associated with the Clark County Education Association.
A Sisolak campaign spokesman wrote that "the issues raised the recent articles are concerning."
It references Senate Bill 341, which passed in 2005, establishing Nevada's online sex offender registry.
A few days before the 2005 legislative session ended, Giunchigliani, then-vice chair of the Assembly Ways and Means committee, proposed deleting an amendment for the bill regarding teachers and volunteers.
The new language, which passed and eventually was signed into law, meant that teachers and school volunteers convicted of sexual offenses with students didn't have to register with the state as sex offenders.
In 2015, the provision requiring teachers and school workers convicted of sex crimes against children was passed and signed into state law.
Giunchigliani said she passed 'five tough laws against sexual assault' in the commercial, and in a statement on her website addressed the work she did for victims as a legislator.
"In the assembly, I passed legislation to increase penalties for offenders and strengthen protections for victims—including working to save the bill that established lifetime supervision for offenders. As the Vice Chair of Ways and Means, it was my job to get this bill passed and I worked hard to alleviate the concerns of some of my committee members because holding abusers accountable matters. The bill and the amendment referenced passed unanimously in both the assembly and senate."
Sheila Leslie, a Democrat who sat on the committee with Giunchigliani, defended her Tuesday. Leslie said the state already couldn't keep track of registered sex offenders, and that this amendment to track convicted school workers came with no additional money, meaning the state couldn't have enforced it.
She said the bill had very little to no chance of passing with that unfunded mandate in the language.
"It's insulting. It's deeply offensive to me personally. The bill was 13 years ago. Why are we hearing about this now if it was such an egregious thing?" Leslie said.
Terri Miller, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, worked to include the teacher provision back in 2005, and said the attack ad was fair and accurate.
"There have been convicted teachers that have found their way back into positions working with youth," Miller said.