Las Vegas police are investigating accusations that a Republican state lawmaker was pressed to switch allegiances in a key vote, in a mysterious attempted extortion case that has allegations flying on all sides.
In a statement, police said Nevada Assemblyman Chris Edwards is the “alleged victim” who was approached in December about changing his official vote for Assembly speaker.
The Nevada Assembly voted unanimously on Monday, the first day of the session, to elect Republican John Hambrick as speaker. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Edwards also backed Hambrick during a preliminary vote in December -- but allegedly was pressured to switch.
Police have not identified who may have tried to extort Edwards but confirmed that investigators from their intelligence section executed a search warrant at a Las Vegas home last week. The property searched is the home of Rob Lauer, a Las Vegas businessman who previously applied for an assembly seat when it was vacated but was not picked.
In a phone interview with Fox News, Lauer confirmed he met with Edwards. Lauer, though, said he met with Edwards because he wanted the assemblyman to take the role of chairman on an independent veterans committee he was organizing.
Lauer claims Edwards was not interested in the position or the committee and instead asked for donations to pay some of his remaining campaign debt.
“I told him three times that I will not give you a commitment for a figure,” Lauer said. “That’s illegal.”
Edwards denies Lauer’s allegations. The assemblyman told Fox News that police have asked him not to discuss details of the investigation, but insisted that Lauer is not telling the truth.
“I heard that he was trying to revise a lot of things that happened,” Edwards said. “If he is not consistent with what transpired it will not go well for him.”
Lauer said investigators confiscated his cell phone and computer during the search of his home, because they’re looking for a recording of the alleged conversation between him and Edwards.
Lauer denies he made a recording. “The police came looking for the tape,” Lauer said. “There is no tape, I have no tape.”
Edwards said there is an ongoing investigation in which “multiple people are involved.” He wouldn’t describe the circumstances but said the potential case is much bigger than the alleged incident involving him and Lauer.
“I would hope that other folks would start cooperating, because we have a session that’s important to the voters of the state of Nevada,” Edwards said.
Lauer also alleges that Edwards alerted the police in an effort to hinder a movement to recall his recent election. A "Recall Edwards PAC" was recently filed with the secretary of state by Citizens Outreach, a conservative organization.
Edwards addressed the issue in a statement on Facebook. "Since the November election we have seen a lot of political hype about recalls and 'holding people accountable' it is nice to see that many of those people will soon be held accountable for their hypocritical actions," Edwards wrote.
Lauer said he now plans to file a defamation suit against Edwards.
“It seriously attacks my character to say I recorded him,” Lauer said. “I don’t record people. I don’t rat people out. People have a conversation with me -- it’s private.”
Edwards said he couldn’t address the tape but assured “the truth will come out at the appropriate time and it will disprove Lauer’s account.”
Lauer has a small history of run-ins with the law. Most recently, in 2010, he was cited with assault against a woman in a bar. The case went to court but the charges were ultimately dropped.
“I have a history of being accused of stuff that is not true and I’ve proven myself,” Lauer said.
No arrests have been made in the current case. Police are conducting more interviews.