Bear with me here, because it’s a tangled web.
The Wall Street Journal reports today that TPMmuckraker favorite Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) is under federal investigation over whether he “accepted unreported gifts or payments from a company that was awarded secret military contracts when Mr. Gibbons served in Congress.” The feds, concentrating on Gibbon’s relationship wtih Nevada software entrepreneur Warren Trepp (the Zelig of scandals), are also probing whether any of those gifts were bribes, John Wilke reports.
The Journal first reported on the two’s closeness back in November. But since then, more revealing evidence has come out:
On March 22, 2005, days before Mr. Trepp and his wife embarked on the Caribbean cruise with the congressman and his family, JalÃ© Trepp sent a reminder to her husband. “Please don’t forget to bring the money you promised Jim and Dawn,” referring to Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons.
Minutes later, Mr. Trepp responds, “Don’t you ever send this kind of message to me! Erase this message from your computer right now!”
But that’s not even the most interesting part of the case.The allegations against Trepp and Gibbons were originally aired by Dennis Montgomery, Trepp’s former business partner, who “designed the software on which [Trepp’s company] eTreppid was founded in 1998.” Montgomery and Trepp have been fighting it out in court for more than a year, and that’s where Montgomery alleged that “Trepp gave at least $100,000 in cash and casino chips to Mr. Gibbons,” an allegation that eventually led to the Journal‘s story in November.
But according to Montgomery, Trepp relied on some powerful friends to hit back:
Mr. Montgomery has accused Messrs. Trepp and Gibbons of using their political clout to get local FBI agents to raid his home and investigate him [last March]. In December, a federal magistrate found flagrant constitutional violations in the FBI raid, according to people briefed on her ruling, which remains under seal. The court found that the local FBI and U.S. attorney’s office had effectively acted as armed enforcers for eTreppid’s wealthy owner in a private business dispute with a former partner.
Now, the U.S. Attorney for Nevada is Daniel Bogden, who is one of the seven federal prosecutors forced out in December (his last day is February 28th). So around the same time that he was asked to leave, a federal magistrate found that his office was basically acting as Trepp’s hired goon.
Curiouser and curiouser…