Governor May Sue Accuser Now that FBI Cleared Him

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, cleared by the
FBI in a corruption investigation that has marred half of his first term, said Monday his "thoughts remain open" to suing the person whose accusations led to the probe.

The governor said claims by Dennis Montgomery that he improperly received gifts from Montgomery's former employer, who got military
contracts while Gibbons was in Congress, proved to be "baseless,
and there's not a shred of evidence that I did anything wrong."

"This certainly took a lot longer than I wanted to be resolved. I wish it would have been resolved a year ago, two years ago. It took longer," Gibbons said. "But this is good news, and it doesn't matter to me when the good news comes, even a day before an election."

Abbe Lowell, a prominent Washington, D.C., lawyer who defended Gibbons in the two-year-old case, said Sunday that the Justice Department told him Gibbons wouldn't be charged. A law enforcement
official close to the case, who spoke anonymously because authorities never officially acknowledged the probe, confirmed the substance of Lowell's statement.

Gibbons, a five-term Republican congressman who was elected governor in 2006, had steadfastly denied any wrongdoing despite Montgomery's claim that eTreppid Technologies LLC founder Warren
Trepp lavished Gibbons with money and a Caribbean cruise in exchange for help winning contracts for the software company.

But Montgomery's credibility was put in doubt after a computer expert questioned the authenticity of e-mails he claimed proved Gibbons was accepting freebies.

Gibbons said at a news conference that mounting a defense against the allegations cost about $200,000 in legal fees. He had to solicit contributions to help cover those costs.

Asked whether he'd consider suing Montgomery now that the Justice Department and FBI have ended the probe, Gibbons said, "You know, some days you're harmed and the doors to the courthouse should remain open. And let me say that my thoughts remain open."

The governor also said he had been the target of "bogus charges trumped up by certain biased individuals." He mentioned the eTreppid case and a claim by a state Democratic Party official that he pressured a county assessor to get an unwarranted property tax break.

A state Ethics Commission panel concluded in September that there's no evidence to support the tax break claim.

Gibbons met with the FBI two weeks ago in Washington to discuss the eTreppid case, and said afterward that he hoped for "a positive outcome."

The conclusion of the FBI investigation eliminates one major distraction for Gibbons, whose first term has been beset by problems. He has seen his approval ratings drop following a budget crunch, a messy divorce and lawsuits involving his private and public activities.

Gibbons still faces a lawsuit from a woman claiming he threatened to rape her. He's also being sued by a government staffer who claimed she was forced from her job because he thought she was leaking information about his personal use of a state cell phone. And his bid for a divorce from first lady Dawn Gibbons is still pending in court.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)