Saturday December 19,2015 : MYSTERIOUS MACHINATIONS REVEALED IN LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL REPORT
Why were several journalists detailed to observe Las Vegas judges?
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which was acquired last week by a company with strong associations to land casino mogul Sheldon Adelson published a startling investigative article Friday describing the mysterious machinations of corporate management seemingly interested in the Las Vegas judiciary.
With creditable feistiness given the circumstances, LVRJ journalists, already angered by the lack of transparency regarding their new owners, are digging into an instruction received from the respected newspaper's corporate headquarters several weeks prior to the surprise acquisition of the Journal by News + Media LLC.
The instruction was for three Journal reporters to immediately drop other stories in order to commence a two-week monitoring project on three Clark County judges….among them District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, a no-nonsense judicial officer who has presided over cases involving Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands group (and has been firm in dealing with the multi-billionaire in her court).
No reason was given for the instruction, and the reporters were directed in an internal memo to "observe how engaged the judge is in the case, whether they're prepared or not, if they favor one lawyer over another, whether they're over- or under-worked — even whether they show up for
work on time, or not."
That memo came from Review-Journal Deputy Editor James G. Wright, who noted the initiative was ordered without explanation from the then corporate owners and was over the objection of the newspaper's management.
The 15,000 word reportage from the exercise was never published by the Journal but the reporters’ diaries were given to management, which claims it did not send them to corporate HQ.
However just days later a long article highly critical of Judge Gonzalez and her handling of Adelson cases in particular appeared in a small Connecticut newspaper, the New Britain Herald, authored by a mysterious and hard-to-locate writer named Edward Clarkin.
Intriguingly, this newspaper is owned by Central Connecticut Communications, which is allegedly owned by Michael Schroeder, who was introduced to LVRJ staff at the recent takeover of the company as the manager of their new owner, News + Media LLC.
Schroeder aroused further interest when he proved uncommunicative regarding how the article came about or Clarkin's role and where he could be contacted.
Adding fuel to the fire, it has also been discovered that prior to the instruction to the Journal's reporters, an attempt had been made to get a Florida newspaper owned by the same company to undertake the same exercise.
In that case the editor declined to cooperate with a corporate exec who said there was a possible story involving campaign finances and how judges were ruling on certain cases.
Contacted for his reaction to the report, the executive in question, who was boarding a flight, said he would call back but did not, and further attempts to contact him proved fruitless.
This was not the first time that Judge Gonzalez came to the attention of the reporters; last year local attorney Michael D. Davidson told the Review-Journal that an Adelson representative had offered to "significantly and financially" support a campaign to unseat the judge. An Adelson spokesman declined comment at the time.
Approached for her reaction on the current expose, Judge Gonzalez was unable to comment due to pending cases in her court, but said she had no problem with the public or reporters sitting in on her court proceedings.
However, an unnamed federal official has noted that the monitoring exercise and the circumstances surrounding it may be of interest to federal authorities like the Department of Justice.
As things stand at present there is only suspicion that the critical article in the Connecticut newspaper may be connected with the intriguing directions given to LVRJ management by the publication’s previous owners, and for that matter the acquisition of the LVRJ by News + Media LLC.
What has emerged from the reports emanating from the takeover and speculating on its lack of transparency is that Sheldon Adelson, or at least his family, is involved in the acquisition.
In an interview with Reuters in Macau on Friday ahead of the formal opening of his new St. Regis hotel, Adelson confirmed that his family bought the RJ as a financial investment, but dismissed speculation that the deal was aimed at controlling media in the United States.
"The Review-Journal is already on my side of the political spectrum," Adelson said. "This newspaper has been making money… we left the operation in the hands of the owner from who we bought it. We are not going to hire an editor, we left it up to them. We may take some of the positive characteristics of our Israeli newspaper and add them to there, but that's all just suggestions."
Read the full story here: