Ross Miller – Ready to fill Masto’s heels?
It’s widely known that Secretary of State Ross Miller (son of former Governor Bob Miller) hopes to be Nevada’s next attorney general, the person charged with upholding the law. But upholding the law is something Miller has done selectively in his current role. Allow me to explain.
If you’ve ever been required to have a document notarized, you know the role of notary – the person with the stamp – exists for one reason: to ensure you, the signer, are who you claim to be.
Anyone needing a document notarized must appear before the notary. No exceptions.
So I was surprised to hear a few weeks back about a conversation Miller had with a woman named Donna Ruthe. Ruthe and her husband, gaming and real estate veteran Chuck Ruthe, are suing Jeff Guinn (son of former Governor Kenny) and his now-defunct Aspen Financial for millions of dollars owed from what the Ruthes and other plaintiffs claim were investments steeped in fraud. I’ve been covering the case and others against Guinn for more than four years. I’ve also been wrongfully accused by Guinn of accepting money and favors from Ruthe and others in exchange for covering the story.
Last year I reported that Guinn’s Aspen Financial, in violation of state law, notarized investor documents outside the presence of the investor. While it may not seem like a big deal, investors claim in court documents the practice facilitated the alleged fraud perpetrated by Guinn. What’s more, all five of Aspen’s notaries have failed to produce their notary journals (which they are required to keep for seven years) for the civil lawsuit. The Secretary of State’s office fined two of the notaries mentioned in the story, but took no action against Aspen.
Fast forward to earlier this summer, when Ruthe, during a conversation with Miller about his political plans, noted her dissatisfaction with the Secretary of State’s failure to sanction Guinn, who Ruthe believes should be held responsible for the failure to produce the journals.
Ruthe mentioned to Miller my report on a New York woman who provided receipts proving she was in New York, not Las Vegas, on the days Aspen notaries swore she appeared before them. In fact, New Yorker Kimberly Casey told us she never set foot in Aspen’s offices. Miller, according to Ruthe, said he remembered the story and that Casey told his investigator she gave Aspen permission to notarize outside her presence. OK, set aside for a moment the fact that Secretary Miller, according to Ruthe, seemed to be endorsing an illegal act. It appeared a correction was in order on my part.
Why, I wondered, would Ms. Casey have changed her story? Turns out she didn’t. In fact, Casey says she’s never been contacted by any investigator.
So I called Secretary Miller, who told me he couldn’t remember what he told Ruthe in the conversation two weeks earlier, but texted me the number of his Securities Administrator Diana Foley, who he said briefed him before his talk with Ruthe.
Ms. Foley first said she had to discuss the matter with Miller. The next day she phoned to say under Nevada’s confidentiality laws information obtained in investigations cannot be disclosed. Hmmm. So, I asked, how could Miller talk with Ruthe? Is the Secretary not bound by the same laws? Yes, but Foley told me Ruthe is an interested party. Well, so am I !! What, I asked, is an “interested party”? Someone interested in contributing to Miller’s campaign? And what law exempts “interested parties” from confidentiality rules? I can’t find one. I’ve asked the Secretary of State to inform me, but he has not.
Nor is he saying why he thought it was OK for notaries to nullify their reason for existence by “getting permission” to execute a document outside the presence of the signer. Seems like a minor infraction, right, Mr. Miller? In fact, robo-signers did it all the time. That worked out well.