LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nathan Valencia’s death at a Nov. 19 fraternity “Fight Night” continues to produce fallout nine months later, and now it has turned more political than ever.
A day after the Nevada Attorney General’s Office released an investigation report, Nevada State Athletic Commission Stephen J. Cloobeck demanded Sheriff Joe Lombardo’s resignation, saying Lombardo shouldn’t be running the sheriff’s office while running for governor.
The video interview with Cloobeck appears at the top of this story. Lombardo’s campaign responded with a statement soon after this story was posted online:
“Just like his boss and political godfather Steve Sisolak, Stephen Cloobeck is using his government position to do Sisolak’s political bidding. While the Sisolak Administration is the most corrupt in Nevada history, it is still disappointing to see these greasy, pay-to-play antics seep into the Nevada Athletic Commission. Frankly, it is an embarrassment to our state … but fortunately, when Joe Lombardo is governor, he’ll clean it up. Maybe that’s why they’re working so hard to protect their power.”Elizabeth Ray, Lombardo for Governor Spokesperson
Records show that Cloobeck has supported many Democratic political campaigns, donating more than $100,000 over the past year. Lombardo is the Republican challenger to Gov. Steve Sisolak in the November election.
Sisolak’s office released a statement that focused on the boxer’s death: “The Governor appreciates the work of the Attorney General and Nevada Athletic Commission on this important topic. This was a terrible event that led to the death of a young man. The Governor looks forward to the continued work to ensure safer events in the future.”
“He’s supposed to be non-partisan,” Cloobeck said of Lombardo. “I hope that he can wear different hats, like when goes on the campaign trail, he puts his little ‘R’ hat on and goes, ‘Trump, Trump, Trump,’ and does that kind of nonsense. But then when he was running Metro, he puts on that non-partisan hat. And he has a Chinese wall. I don’t know, ask him.”
Speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s meeting, Cloobeck told reporters Lombardo promised to open an investigation and it never happened. He put Metro Deputy Chief James LaRochelle during the meeting, pressing for a police investigation into the 20-year-old boxer’s death.
He seemed to get assurances Tuesday that Metro would investigate.
The I-Team’s Vanessa Murphy asked Cloobeck to clarify. He said he challenged Metro to “be participatory” and Metro agreed.
“Let’s see what they do. Actions speak. Right? Actions speak,” Cloobeck said.
Murphy: What would you say to critics who say you are making this political, attacking the sheriff directly?
Cloobeck: “Because the sheriff decided to run for governor and make it political. Ask him. Never before has the sheriff run for governor and become partisan. The sheriff’s always been non-partisan. He’s now running an institution as a partisan … it’s a non-partisan job.
Murphy: How does that affect the investigation into the boxing match though?
Cloobeck: You tell me. Ask the sheriff. He doesn’t like to answer questions. Why don’t you ask him? Why did he promise me to do an investigation and double down? Who’s he talking to? What’s his intent? Why doesn’t he do right by this — the community? Be non-partisan, sheriff, or step down.”
Sisolak’s campaign added that Cloobeck is a Sisolak appointee and “one of, if not the, largest contributor to Steve Sisolak’s political campaigns.”