Open letter to Mesquite City Council

After some gross misrepresentations tonight's City Council meeting made by City Attorney Bob Sweetin about me, I have decided it best to release the letter I wrote to Mayor and City Council a few weeks ago.

His comments were extremely unprofessional, and only reinforces that it is in the best interest of the City of Mesquite to suspend the City's contract with the law office Mr Sweetin works for, pending findings of ALL of the investigations mentioned in the letter, investigations that may already exist that I am not privy to, and what might be more after comments made tonight.  

To be clear, my letter was not in defense of a former detective. It did mention our City's prosecutor trying to nullify evidence and investigations by the entire Mesquite Police Dept under former Chief Tanner, and current Chief Chesley.

Mr Sweetin clearly, once again, has shown he is not acting in the best interest of his client, the City of Mesquite.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!





"November 8, 2020

Dear Mayor and Council,

Due to the nature of any existing and forthcoming allegations against Mesquite City Attorney, Robert D. Sweetin, I strongly urge City Council to suspend the contract agreement between the City of Mesquite, and Davis Van Cleve.  Mr Sweetin has time and time again shown to put his political campaign ahead of the best interest of the client, the City of Mesquite.  Due to the many conflicts of interest that have presented themselves, it is my understanding the City has spent tens of thousands of dollars on outside counsel.  
I also urge the City of Mesquite to recoup any expenses from Davis Van Cleve, incurred by the City having to retain outside counsel due to the gross lack of judgement shown by Mr Sweetin. 

When Mr Sweetin filed for office in March, he clearly violated Mesquite Municipal Code 1-6-2 which states "No employee of the City or officer thereof, excluding City Council members, receiving compensation under the provisions of this Code or any City ordinance, shall be a candidate for or eligible for the Office of Council member or Mayor without first resigning from City employment or City office."  Instead of recusing himself when this topic came up for discussion on a City Council Agenda, Mr Sweetin instead chose to argue his personal case, not that of the City of Mesquite. 
More recently, 
the Mesquite Police Officers' Association presented evidence of nearly 30 times in 7 years the Mesquite Police Department has stopped Mr Sweetin for traffic violations.  An information request was submitted by local blogger, Barbara Ellestad, for more information on these traffic stops.  A document was provided to the blogger, who published it on her website.  (https://mesquitecitizenjournal.com/mayoral-candidate-sweetin-answers-charges-of-excessive-traffic-stops/)
Mr Sweetin's response, included statements calling into question the software used to create the report as well as calling into question whether stops had even occurred.  He stated "several of the allegations are in locations in Mesquite where I know neither my wife nor I have ever been pulled over."  Now, for the average citizen to question the validity or authenticity of such claims from a police department is one thing.  However, i
n Mr Sweetin's capacity as City Attorney, he is the City's lead prosecutor.  When he calls into question evidence provided by the Mesquite Police Department in this case, he is calling into question any and all evidence, investigations and prosecutions over at least the length of time Mr Sweetin was the City's prosecutor.

In the same letter, the Mesquite Police Officers' Association stated an instance in which Mr Sweetin did not apply the law equally, rather based on personal relationships.  Mr Sweetin released the following statement on social media:
".... The case the MPOA refers to is a sexual offense against a minor. I share the following with the victim’s permission. The case was prosecuted by my office, after the Mesquite Police Department found no probable cause. I disagreed, and more importantly, so did a judge, who signed off on the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. The defendant hired a very good and competent attorney and there was no conflict. I’m not going to re-open wounds as whoever wrote this has attempted to do, but I will say, the “boy” (who was actually a man) entered a plea deal, paid his debt to society, has reformed, and is now living a very successful life. Both the victim and perpetrator in that case have moved on...
Critically, the MPOA failed to mention in their letter that one of the detectives that worked on this case and found there was no probable cause has since been terminated and convicted in a nearby state of raping a minor and is now serving time in federal prison.
....
 I would ask the entire community to provide privacy to the victim’s family in this matter as well as the defendant and his family as all of these people have since moved on."
(The response in its entirety will be included at the end of this letter.)
Instead of acting in the best interest of the City of Mesquite, Mr Sweetin again chose to attack the Mesquite Police Department.  In this instance, by stating one of the detectives assigned to this case is now in Federal prison.  This incredible lack of judgement by Mr Sweetin for his political gain, opens the door for other perpetrators of crimes investigated by this detective to dispute and possibly throw out any testimony or evidence collected by this detective, and or the police department as a whole. 

More evidence of Mr Sweetin putting his political interests above his client, the City of Mesquite, occurred even more recently.  Municipal code 1-6-5 Rules of Procedure for Council meetings, section F, states:
"4. Any public comment shall be addressed to the Mayor, moderator, or Chair of the public body and shall be direct so as to form a viewpoint of an issue.
5. Derogatory comments directed specifically at another public commenter or any non-public individuals, including City employees, shall not be permitted."
In a Regular public City Council meeting held 10/13/2020, public comment was made and a citizen, Jodi Thornley, was named in Public Comment by a Mr Tobler.  No action to stop or remind the public speaker he was in violation of this code was made.  The following week, in a public Tech Review meeting held 10/20/2020, public comment was made and Mr Tobler's name was mentioned.  Mr Sweetin got up quickly, and reminded Council and the speaker this was a violation.  It so happens that Mr Tobler is a personal friend of Mr Sweetin.  It also happens the speaker making public comment on 10/20, was speaking out about Mr Sweetin's involvement in prosecuting a case against her son (who is now serving in the USMC).  This case was the case mentioned above, in which the MPOA publicly stated there was no evidence to prosecute, as no crime was committed.

As a citizen and taxpayer of Mesquite, I strongly urge you to conduct an inquiry or investigation into the original case mentioned by the Mesquite Police Officers' Association; any civil or criminal liability imposed on the City of Mesquite caused by Mr Sweetin's invalidation of evidence and investigations Mesquite Police Dept was involved in under the last two administrations; the legality of Mr Sweetin disseminating information about this case in public that led to the identities of the male subject and the under age girl being divulged; and finally malpractice or breach of contract committed by Davis Van Cleve Law Firm and/or Robert D Sweetin due to Mr Sweetin putting his personal and political agendas over that of his clients, the citizens and taxpayers of the City of Mesquite.

Thank you,
Wes Boger
Mesquite City Councilor-Elect"



Attachment, Facebook post from Bob Sweetin, dated October 8th:
"
For the second time in a week, I am compelled to sit down and respond to negative campaign accusations. This time, I am doing so, sadly, in response to a campaign mailer from our local police union.

First, it’s important to note that the letter is signed generally by “Your Men and Women in Blue” of the Mesquite Police Officer’s Association (“MPOA” also referred to here as the “police union”). However, not all local police support the Police Union’s decision to send this mailer, and that’s made clear by Union President Larry Stewart’s statement in his October 6, 2020 letter stating that not all members of the union have agreed with the endorsement of the union and only dues from members who are in support of the endorsement are being used to support the union’s political efforts. Having worked shoulder to shoulder with law enforcement officers for more than a decade, I believe that what most police officers want is to go to work, do their job well, be paid fairly for the job done well, and get home safely to their families, not to engage in ugly campaigning.


Second, it’s important to note I have been in the City Attorney’s office for nearly eight years. I’ve never had a single complaint filed or question about my integrity from the police union until I decided to run for Mayor. If their claims were true, I know I would not have received the endorsement of Former Police Chief Troy Tanner or the following quote he provided in support of my campaign:

“In my 8 years as Chief of Police and 16 years before that as an officer, detective, sergeant and lieutenant with the Mesquite Police Department I have never worked with a City Attorney more tough on crime than Bob. Bob helped me keep Mesquite safe by vigorously prosecuting criminal defendants, while ensuring Mesquite police have the legal support they need to get the job done. Bob and I also spent time in the legislature together, working with state officials to ensure adequate funding for police and advocate for laws that protect both the community and police officers. While I was Police Chief Mesquite received the designation of the safest City in Nevada. Bob’s commitment to law enforcement, community policing, and justice are unmatched among the candidates I’ve seen for local office. Bob is the best candidate to serve and lead the community that we all love as its next Mayor.”

The MPOA letter begins by openly criticizing a member of the public, former Councilman Dave Ballweg, who wrote an opinion piece decrying the use of local union endorsements in local races. I happen to agree with Councilman Ballweg. I have been offered endorsements from other bargaining groups, but refused them, because I do not believe public employee unions should be political machines (to be clear, the Police Union, also known as the MPOA, is a political organization—having registered with the state as a Political Action Committee on September 29, 2020). In the end, the only endorsement that truly matters is the voters of Mesquite this November.

The letter goes on to talk about why citizens should vote for Al Litman. Read it. It’s good information about the Mayor. Use it to make an informed decision. I wish there was more about him. They spend the following two full pages attacking me, yet we only have 16 lines in a 4-page letter that states why we should vote for the candidate they have chosen.

The letter does not criticize or even touch on any of the ideas I am running on—specifically economic development through revitalization of the Boulevard, building workforce housing, and improving our local schools. Instead, the letter proceeds into a mixture of exaggerated allegations, untruths and omissions of important facts. I feel compelled to respond.

The first claim is the same claim that the anonymous mailer contained, which is that I have been pulled over 25 times. I have been provided a document that claims to show vehicles registered to my name have been pulled over, but there is no reasoning or explanation for the stops. The document appears to be an excel spreadsheet, not the software generated reports I am used to seeing in my work prosecuting traffic cases over the past eight years. The document doesn’t say whether the stops are for speeding (as alleged by the author) or something else. Moreover, several of the allegations are in locations in Mesquite where I know neither my wife nor I have ever been pulled over. Now, to be clear, I have been pulled over in town but I have never treated any officer with disrespect or hostility in a traffic stop. Moreover, I have never asked to not be given a ticket because of my position as City Attorney. Every officer wears a body camera and if I’ve ever been hostile or disrespectful I’m encouraging them to release that footage. Finally, in eight years as City Attorney there has never been a complaint lodged from the police regarding my driving. Rather, the author has thrown this together as a last-minute mud-sling three weeks before an election, the same day ballots are mailed out.

As to the section regarding “Friends with Benefits,” this is where I find myself most disappointed in whoever the author of this letter is. First, it does not represent the typical competent and good police work that I have seen from the Mesquite Police Department in my time as the local prosecutor. Second, it demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the criminal justice system. Prosecutors’ offices work independently from Police and Sheriff’s Departments. That independence ensures justice is done. The author also demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of conflict of interest rules. The case the MPOA refers to is a sexual offense against a minor. I share the following with the victim’s permission. The case was prosecuted by my office, after the Mesquite Police Department found no probable cause. I disagreed, and more importantly, so did a judge, who signed off on the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. The defendant hired a very good and competent attorney and there was no conflict. I’m not going to re-open wounds as whoever wrote this has attempted to do, but I will say, the “boy” (who was actually a man) entered a plea deal, paid his debt to society, has reformed, and is now living a very successful life. Both the victim and perpetrator in that case have moved on and the author’s attempt to force them and their families to publicly relive it for political points is one of the most disappointing things I have experienced in my career in public service.

Critically, the MPOA failed to mention in their letter that one of the detectives that worked on this case and found there was no probable cause has since been terminated and convicted in a nearby state of raping a minor and is now serving time in federal prison.

Attack me as a candidate, but please do not force victims of crime in our own community to relive moments of trauma so that you can win a political contest. These are real people, with real lives. Again, whoever wrote this didn’t put their name on it for a reason. Their words are damaging and the individual author does not want to be known. I would ask the entire community to provide privacy to the victim’s family in this matter as well as the defendant and his family as all of these people have since moved on.

Justice needs to be done. That includes cases where police and prosecutors have professional disagreements as to evidentiary matters. I have had numerous instances where community members have contacted my office with concerns or questions about cases. If it was appropriate or necessary, I took action and successfully prosecuted the case. The decisions were always made on the facts of the case and they have included stalking, domestic abuse, and violent offenses where Mesquite Police Department found no probable cause. That doesn’t make them wrong, or bad at their jobs. It is not a circumvention of the process. It shows the system works as intended.

Finally, here is what MPOA hasn’t told you:
- I passed a local ordinance making domestic violence a much broader crime, making it easier to go after domestic violence abusers.
- I passed a local ordinance creating the crime of loitering for the purpose of engaging in drug activity, which MPD uses frequently in their drug and traffic stops as a tool to ensure our community is kept safe
- I passed a local ordinance that increased the mandatory minimum jail sentence for people who commit a domestic violence in front of a child
- I created the victim advocacy program, which has been a resource for victims of rape, abuse, and domestic violence.
- I’ve successfully prosecuted thousands of cases in Mesquite and have been an able and willing law enforcement partner.

I stand with law enforcement—it has been the basis of my entire legal career.

I want to conclude this letter by reiterating that we are better than this. I know that there are officers in the MPOA and at MPD who stand with me in that feeling. However, with the current political climate, and direct involvement from the Chief of Police in the preparation and approval of the MPOA letter, it would be unwise for them to speak out and I understand why. I just want them to know that I see them, I hear them, and I appreciate all they do to keep our community safe.

If elected, I will work with the community towards our goals of economic development, workforce housing, and education. I love Mesquite. I am not perfect, but I know I have much to offer our community as mayor. I take on tough fights, even when they seem impossible. I’ve endeavored to make the right decisions, even when they were hard to make. Although I’m certain that no other candidate will have to make a statement on their driving habits, I do drive a little fast at times and I’m sure my wife Courtney thanks the author for very publicly making sure I drive slower."