LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said he plans to expedite the creation of a marijuana task force after reports of Ukrainian officials getting involved in the issuance of retail marijuana licenses.
Prosecutors in New York allege that contributions to Republican candidates for Nevada governor and state attorney general in 2018 were attempts by businessmen with ties to President Donald Trump's lawyer and the Ukraine investigation to influence U.S. politics.
A failed bid to open a retail marijuana business in Nevada also is detailed in an indictment made public Thursday in federal court against four men, including two associates of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Records show donations of $10,000 each to Adam Laxalt, the former state attorney general who lost his bid for governor, and Wesley Duncan, who ran unsuccessfully for attorney general.
Sisolak said he was "outraged" by the news in a statement issued Friday morning. The statement reads:
The Governor is outraged by yesterday’s news that a foreign national attempted to influence Nevada’s elections through a million-dollar laundering scheme in order to gain a marijuana license and enter our legalized market.
Yesterday’s indictments and their connections to Nevada, in combination with ongoing issues in Nevada’s legalized marijuana industry – such as illegal sales to minors, serious allegations of manipulated lab results, and a licensing process mired in litigation – have led the Governor to expedite regulatory and enforcement measures. Many of these enhanced measures were originally intended to be implemented at the start of the Governor’s Cannabis Compliance Board, but in the interest of time and the public health and safety of Nevadans, the Governor has formed a multi-state agency special task force to root out potential corruption or criminal influences in Nevada's marijuana marketplace, effective immediately. Any marijuana entity – licensed or unlicensed – that violates the law will see swift and severe criminal and regulatory action.
The Governor is disappointed in the lack of oversight and the inaction from the state over many years that led us to this critical juncture – including the apparent absence of a single criminal referral by the Marijuana Enforcement Division since the inception of licensed marijuana sales, medical or recreational, in Nevada. Governor Sisolak's administration is taking immediate action in order to protect the health and safety of Nevadans, the jobs created by the industry, and the long-term sustainability of education funding generated from the legalized marketplace.
A Laxalt spokesman denies Laxalt knew the man making the donation.
Duncan's spokesman says Duncan refunded the contribution Thursday and had no idea the donor was acting unlawfully.