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Not so fast, Mr. Velto: Political expediency versus integrity (opinion)


Submitted by Elisa Cafferata and Sheila Leslie

In a recent op-ed, Reno attorney Alex Velto explained his decision to resign his position as a high-paid attorney with a prominent conservative law firm, Hutchison & Steffen. 

Mr. Velto is a candidate in a competitive Democratic primary for Assembly District 27, and he framed his decision as a “tough” but principled choice prompted by recent events.

We’ve both worked with plenty of men who have taken the time to listen carefully to stories from their constituents, who have come to understand the day-to-day realities of reproductive healthcare and the right to choose. We’ve seen people who have evolved their thinking and stood up for these rights, even when there was a political cost for taking a stand.  

We think voters should consider whether Mr. Velto’s choice falls into that category or if he’s joining the recent chorus of candidates who have read the polls and are taking a stand for political gain.

The way Mr. Velto tells it, he had to reconsider his job when the firm “began to take on cases and causes that challenged the very core of my values.” The “final straw” was the firm’s decision to challenge the Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom’s proposed constitutional amendment to protect the right to an abortion until fetal viability. 

Now, the firm’s choices were in “blatant conflict” with his moral compass, and he realized he needed to act. But we wonder, where was he four months earlier when his firm filed the legal challenge? The fact of the matter is that his former firm’s views have long been a matter of public record. If his moral compass is so strong, why did Mr. Velto join the firm in the first place? 

We wonder, didn’t he notice that in 2017 his firm aggressively pursued bogus recall attempts against legislative Democrats? What about the fact that they brought a frivolous legal action against Aaron Ford, our current Attorney General, on behalf of a crisis pregnancy center in 2018?

If indeed Mr. Velto was duped into joining the firm unaware of its actions before 2019, we wonder why he didn’t notice that his firm worked to pass an anti-choice ballot initiative in 2020 to undo the “Trust Nevada Woman Act” passed in 2019?

In 2022, Mr. Velto’s boss published an tweet supporting the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. We wonder: Did he not see this? 

What about later that year, when his boss wrote an op-ed attacking Governor Sisolak on behalf of predatory pregnancy crisis centers? Or, more critically, when his then boss came out against SJR7, a measure to protect women’s reproductive freedom?

Wasn’t Mr. Velto supposed to do his due diligence before he became a candidate?

Elisa Cafferata
Elisa Cafferata

Mr. Velto seeks to represent the people of Assembly District 27 at the state legislature. 

Legislative sessions deal with critical issues that will directly impact the people of Nevada, including health care, education, transportation and reproductive rights. Sessions are fast-paced, and a good legislator will be aware of publicly available information, at a minimum, and do their due diligence on behalf of the voters.

Sheila Leslie
Sheila Leslie

We want the voters to have the information they need as they decide how to cast their ballots.  We believe the voters of Assembly District 27 can make up their own minds. Has Mr. Velto read the polls that show the majority of Nevadans are pro-choice? Is he truly willing to support women’s rights? Or is he taking a stand for political gain?

Voters deserve to know the real story. The fundamental right to reproductive choice shouldn’t be subject to a candidate’s whim.

Elisa Cafferata has worked in Nevada as a lobbyist for reproductive health care for 12 years. Sheila Leslie represented District 27 in the Nevada Assembly for 12 years (1998 – 2010).

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