LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Public duty versus private interest is at the core of a newly filed lawsuit alleging misconduct by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and its man at the top.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who's running to become governor of Nevada, is accused of misusing his time police e-mail for his political campaign.
Lombardo is the front-runner in the Republican primary for governor.
But he's also still our sheriff.
As a state employee, he's prohibited from political activity during his hours of employment.
But a group says LVMPD emails prove he did just that, and allege the department is trying to cover it up.
The lawsuit claims Sheriff Lombardo used his government-issued email address to engage in political activity while on the job as Clark County's top cop.
It was filed late Friday by consulting firm Due Diligence — a group that says it specializes in background research to help ensure government transparency and accountability.
They're asking the court to force LVMPD to obey Nevada public records law and provide copies of Lombardo's emails that they believe the department is improperly withholding.
According to the lawsuit, Due Diligence made repeated public records requests for copies of incoming and outgoing emails throughout 2021 between Sheriff Joe Lombardo and consultants working on his campaign for governor.
The lawsuit says LVMPD refused to release the records, claiming they are not public because they're not related to Metro business.
The department provided a few examples of the emails to prove their point.
But the lawsuit says it did the opposite.
The emails they did produce included information "Directly related to government conduct including Nevada's COVID policies, a deputy's presentation about county and state economic status, emails from a disgruntled citizen regarding Sheriff Lombardo's mismanagement of the fingerprint bureau, and press releases from Governor Sisolak about new and pending state legislation."
After first saying the emails were not related to official police business, Metro then cited a different reason for not releasing them, calling the records "confidential under the deliberative process privilege."
In addition to forcing Metro to release the documents and pay attorney's fees and costs, the lawsuit asks the court to find the department in violation of state public records law.
Joe Lombardo's campaign declined to comment.
Metro did not return our call.
13 Investigates called the attorney for Due Diligence Group asking for the identity of their client behind the lawsuit.
They did not respond but we have learned that the group made its name by designing and executing document retrieval plans for political clientele, including national democratic campaign committees, opposition research firms, and labor unions, among others, throughout the country.
See the full lawsuit here.