LAS VEGAS – Clenching his wife's hand, a Republican congressman running for governor on Thursday repeated denials that he had assaulted and propositioned a woman after a night out with campaign donors.
"I did nothing wrong last Friday. I did not act inappropriately with anyone," U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons said, a day after police released reports detailing events that ended in three 911 calls and an assault allegation against him three weeks before Election Day.
"I'm a happily married man, a father and a grandfather. My reputation means everything to me," he said at a brief news conference. The congressman, who is leading in the polls in the governor's race, wouldn't take any questions from reporters.
Chrissy Mazzeo, 32, told police that Gibbons, 61, grabbed her arms, pushed her up against a wall and propositioned her in a parking garage near a bar where the two had met earlier in the night.
Mazzeo said she swore at Gibbons, ran away and called police for help. After her third call, she met police officers and gave a statement.
The next day, Mazzeo chose not to pursue the matter, saying she did not want to start a media circus. But she didn't recant her initial accusations.
Gibbons, a five-term congressman from Reno, said he offered to walk Mazzeo to a parking ramp in the direction of the hotel where he was staying. As they approached the structure he caught Mazzeo as she tripped, he said.
"I asked her if she was alright. She looked at me, said nothing and simply walked away," Gibbons said, reading from a statement. "I turned and proceeded to my hotel."
Gibbons said he was floored by the allegations. His wife of 20 years, former state Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, did not comment at the news conference.
Mazzeo, a single mother and a cocktail server at the Wynn Las Vegas, referred questions Thursday to Richard Wright, a prominent Las Vegas attorney. Wright declined to comment.
"I have a baby," Mazzeo said. "(My lawyer) told me not to say anything."
Mazzeo and Gibbons both told police they had been drinking. Mazzeo sounds confused and out of breath in a recording of her call to police.
Eyewitness accounts gathered by police described a busy, at times raucous, scene at the McCormick & Schmick's restaurant bar where Gibbons, his adviser Sig Rogich, Mazzeo and three other women were drinking. A restaurant employee told police the atmosphere at Gibbons' table was "flirty." Gibbons told police other patrons had made jokes about selling photos of the congressman and the women to tabloids.
Gibbons tried to counter those accounts Thursday. His campaign distributed affidavits from the other women who sat at the table, including Mazzeo's friend, Pennie Puhek.
"I am not aware of anything inappropriate happening at the table that evening and Mr. Gibbons did not appear to be in any way intoxicated," Puhek's statement reads.
Authorities said they concluded there wasn't enough evidence to seek a criminal charge.
According to a statewide poll reported Sept. 24 by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gibbons was favored 45 percent to 36 percent over Democratic state Sen. Dina Titus. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.