The investigation of Las Vegas strip club owner Michael Galardi and various politicians appears to be the first time federal authorities have used the federal USA Patriot Act in a public corruption probe, the Las Vegas Review-Journal says. “This is definitely the first time it has come to light,” said attorney Dominic Gentile, who represents former Clark County Commissioner Lance Malone, Galardi’s lobbyist.
Two Nevada lawmakers said the FBI had overstepped its bounds. “The law was intended for activities related to terrorism and not to naked women,” said Sen. Harry Reid, who as minority whip is the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate.
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., plans to ask the FBI about its guidelines for using the Patriot Act in cases that don’t involve terrorism. “It was never my intention that the Patriot Act be used for garden-variety crimes and investigations,” Berkley said.
Justice Department spokesman Corallo insisted lawmakers were fully aware the Patriot Act had far-reaching implications beyond fighting terrorism when the legislation was adopted in October 2001. “I think probably a lot of members (of Congress) were only interested in the anti-terrorism measures,” he said said. “But when the Judiciary Committee sat down, both Republicans and Democrats, they obviously discussed the applications, that certain provisions could be used in regular criminal investigations.”