CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - First lady Dawn Gibbons has challenged
Gov. Jim Gibbons' bid to keep their divorce trial private, contending Wednesday that he's involved with another woman and relied on an unconstitutional law in getting a judge to seal the proceedings.
Attorney Cal Dunlap, representing Dawn Gibbons, said in a motion filed with Washoe County Family Court Judge Frances Doherty in Reno that the state law cited in sealing the divorce files violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Nevada Constitution.
Dunlap also said Gibbons wants to end his marriage of nearly 22 years because of "his infatuation and involvement" with someone else. He added Gibbons' "fawning involvement" with the other woman has included making her "his frequent bar, lunch, dinner and even grocery store companion."
"This case is the poster child of why trials must be public," Dunlap said, adding that under the state law used to seal the case Dawn Gibbons "has no voice to object to this covert judicial action, nor can she make public the conduct of elected officials."
Gary Silverman, the attorney handling the first-term Republican governor's divorce case, declined to comment on Dunlap's motion challenging an order by Carson City District Judge Bill Maddox, who
sealed the case prior to its transfer to Judge Doherty.
While Silverman isn't making public statements, Gibbons has publicly denied having a girlfriend, and wrote to an Elko newspaper harshly criticizing its May 21 editorial that stated, among other things, that he has been involved with the wife of a Reno doctor.
Gibbons said the woman, who wasn't named, "has been a friend of mine for over 15 years and there is nothing inappropriate about that friendship. Saying I am 'involved' with her certainly leads readers to believe something that is absolutely not true."
In his letter printed in the Elko Daily Free Press over the weekend, Gibbons said the newspaper's editorial was "absolutely out of the bounds of good taste and common decency."
Dunlap's bid for open divorce proceedings and Gibbons' comments to the Elko newspaper follow a formal demand, filed in court last week by Dawn Gibbons, for a detailed explanation from the governor on why he feels they're incompatible.
In his divorce complaint filed May 2, Gibbons listed incompatibility as grounds for ending the marriage of nearly 22 years. The complaint also states the "cause of action for divorce" occurred in Reno, but offers no specifics.
Dawn Gibbons, 54, also has proposed a compromise so that Gibbons, 63, could move back into the Governor's Mansion in Carson City and she would stay in a guest house on the grounds so she can continue her duties as first lady.
Gibbons has asked the judge to award him sole occupancy of the taxpayer-supported mansion and award his wife occupancy of the couple's Reno home, where he's been saying in recent months. Dunlap
has said Dawn Gibbons wants to sell the Reno house because it's too
big for her to maintain by herself.
State law requires the governor live in Carson City. Gibbons has described his move to Reno as temporary, and a spokesman has said
there's no law violation.
Excerpts from divorce motion
Following are excerpts from the 33-page motion a lawyer for first lady Dawn Gibbons filed with Washoe County Family Court Judge Frances Doherty in Reno on Wednesday in attempt to unseal the divorce files involving her and Gov. Jim Gibbons:
- "After more than twenty years of marriage, the plaintiff (Gov. Gibbons) has deserted, abandoned, and has shunned his wife without justification for that behavior."
- "Despite his disingenuous, shallow, and transparent protestations that his relationship with another man's wife is a mere friendship, his infatuation and involvement with the other woman is the real, concealed and undisclosed reason for his voluntary departure from the marriage and from the (Governor's) Mansion where he occasionally resided."
- "Even the plaintiff acknowledges his long-term involvement with her, but claims she is just a friend. Yet, oddly, despite having vowed to not comment on the details of the breakup of the marriage, he specially breaks his vow of silence to defend. In short, by not stepping up and by not candidly admitting his fawning involvement with his frequent bar, lunch, dinner, and even grocery store companion, he has brought the spotlight down upon himself and upon the reason for the divorce."
- "Mrs. Gibbons has been repeatedly assailed by planted innuendo, untruths and half-truths about her and her decades-long marriage, while the plaintiff, the source of the damage to her reputation, cowers behind a veil of secrecy and manufactures issues attempting to embarrass her into submission with contrived issues such as the occupancy of the Mansion."
- "Mr. Gibbons' wife has been his greatest asset. She has worked relentlessly and tirelessly to advance his career, and had stood by his side, at the most critical time in his quest to be elected governor. For just one example, even when, after consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and under the cover of darkness, in a garage in Las Vegas, the plaintiff was accused of assaulting a young woman, bearing a striking resemblance, to the 'other woman' referenced, below, that woman, too, like his wife now, was trashed and the public was, again, misled."
- "The public interest is heightened when the subject of interest is one of the most, if not the most, scandal-ridden governor in the history of this state."
- "Mrs. Gibbons, the person who has sacrificed the most and who
has given her all to this man, should not be dismissed as if she were equally to blame, when under the circumstances it can be demonstrated on the record and to the public that she is blameless
and that lust is the real villain here."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)