By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 3, 2008
Federal prosecutors have closed an 18-month investigation into ties between Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) and a defense contractor without bringing criminal charges, according to lawyers involved in the case.
Gibbons had been in the sightlines of prosecutors in the District of Columbia and agents in the FBI's Washington field office since late 2006. News reports at the time highlighted a series of earmarks that Gibbons engineered for a defense company in his state while he served as a member of the U.S. House intelligence and armed services committees.
The federal probe eventually expanded to include thousands of dollars in consulting payments to the governor's wife, Dawn, from another Nevada military contractor. Dawn Gibbons, a former state legislator, arranged meetings and news conferences in exchange for the $35,000, her attorney said.
Watchdog groups said the connections between the governor and the companies, eTreppid Technologies and Sierra Nevada Corp., were engendered by the cozy atmosphere that fostered public corruption scandals across Capitol Hill this decade. Jim Gibbons, a five-term House member, left Washington two years ago to run for the governorship of his home state.
Abbe David Lowell, an attorney for the Gibbonses, said he received confirmation Friday from Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham that the investigation of the couple had ended.
"The prosecutors in the case confirmed what the governor has been saying for the past two years -- that he did nothing wrong and there was no basis for any allegations against him," Lowell said in an interview.
Durham and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in the District had no comment.
Gibbons and his wife filed for divorce this year after a messy public split precipitated by allegations that the lawmaker had propositioned a Las Vegas cocktail waitress after an alcohol-fueled evening. No charges were filed in that incident against the governor, a former fighter pilot who had served during the Vietnam War. The couple's personal problems drew wide attention across Nevada after the governor moved out of the state mansion and tried to have the divorce proceedings sealed from public view.
The ties between Gibbons and eTreppid, which is partially owned by former junk bond trader Warren Trepp, emerged as part of a trade-secrets dispute between Trepp and his former business partner. The company makes software used by intelligence agencies and military units.
Trepp, a former trader for Michael Milken, the 1980s-era financier known as the "junk bond king," entertained the Gibbonses with private flights and a Caribbean cruise as the then-congressman helped him build relationships with potential government clients in Washington.
Reid H. Weingarten, an attorney for Trepp, previously accused his client's former business associate of fueling unfounded rumors.