In North Dakota billionaire Henry Nicholas was able to buy his hobby horse initiated measure onto the statewide ballot for a vote.
That was Marsy’s Law, the so-called “victims rights” amendment to the state constitution which has, since it was ratified by voters, been an absolute headache for the criminal justice system while doing very little to improve things for victims.
In Nevada, some thing Nicholas was able to buy his way out from under jail time for serious drug charges.
From the Nevada Current:
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson is declining to discuss a plea deal that will allow billionaire Henry Nicholas to skate on felony drug trafficking charges and avoid prison, prompting outrage from lawmakers, civil libertarians, and on social media.
“This is disgusting,” Assemblyman William McCurdy tweeted Wednesday about the plea deal. McCurdy is also chair of the Nevada Democratic Party.
Nicholas and his friend, Ashley Fargo, were arrested last August in a Las Vegas hotel room where police found nearly 96 grams of methamphetamine, 4.24 grams of heroin, 15.13 grams of cocaine, and 17.1 grams of psilocin, a psychedelic, according to the complaint.
“DA Wolfson will not be commenting on this case until the defendants actually enter their pleas in District Court,” Wolfson’s assistant, Audrie Locke, told the Current.
This comment from an anonymous court house source quoted by the Current sums it up nicely, I think: “They are paying their way out of jail.”
The plea deal has Nicholas and his “friend” paying big money, but not serving any jail time.
The flaks pushing Marsy’s Law who are quoted in the article argue that Nicholas’ legal problems won’t effect their political campaign. “[Billy] Vassiliadis, a public relations guru, says it’s unlikely the public makes any connection between Nicholas and Marsy’s Law,” the Current reports.
But why shouldn’t the public make a connection between Marsy’s Law and Nicholas?
The North Dakota Victim’s Assistance Association, CAWS North Dakota, the North Dakota Women’s Network, the North Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the North Dakota State’s Attorneys’ Association, the North Dakota Trial Lawyers, the First Nations Womens Alliance, and the North Dakota Fraternal Order of Police all opposed Marsy’s Law when it was on the statewide ballot here in North Dakota.
Opposing them was Henry Nicholas, a California billionaire who single-handedly paid to collect the signature, and run the media ads, which resulted in Marsy’s Law being placed on our statewide ballot and subsequently the state constitution.
As you can see from the campaign finance report below, produced by the North Dakota Secretary of State’s campaign disclosure database, Nicholas spent over $2.3 million on the Marsy’s Law campaign in 2016. He was the only contributor to the campaign.
The populists who support the initiated measure process like to thump their chests and make loud noises about how that process represents “the people.” But in 2016 it pretty much just represented Henry Nicholas, who bought his way onto North Dakota’s ballot like he seemingly bought his way out of jail time in Nevada.