Spring beckoned. Las Vegas temperatures teetered near 70 degrees despite the mid March date. Throngs of luxury vehicles lined Convention Center Drive, jostling for access to the valet station located at the fore of the iconic Piero’s Italian restaurant. The reason for the parking related quagmire? A campaign kickoff event being held by major Republican power broker and crusading attorney, Sigal Chattah. On this night however, Ms. Chattah was not throwing a fundraising event for someone else, but was the recipient of her own. An event put together announcing her entry into the race for Nevada Attorney General.
Among those arriving to fete Chattah, the anointed GOP candidate recruited to take on the state’s incumbent Democrat AG Aaron Ford, were a disparate group of right wing influencers, contributors, and elected officials. Included among them were Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald, City Council members Michele Fiore and Victoria Seaman, Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo, gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert, police union head Steve Grammas, and former law and order judges Bill Kephart and Richard Scotti. While all but one of those stalwart conservatives saw their names plastered on the evening’s invitation, one person swung by for a quick visit, quietly sneaking in, unrecognized by most of the fired up crowd, despite her significant influence among both major party political insiders and grass roots activists.
Making an appearance that evening to give Attorney General Ford’s opponent a financial donation, a contribution described by someone close to Ms. Chattah as “generous,” along with offering the night’s lineup a veneer of bipartisan support was the self described ‘Legal Angel’ local attorney, Anna Albertson.
While Ms. Albertson, who prior to running for a position on the Eighth Judicial District Court went by the name Yianna Reizakis, was one of the many politically involved lawyers in attendance at Chattah's soiree, her reputation as a progressive activist, advocate of social justice, and promoter of liberal causes marked her as unique among the other guests. Now with her selection as the incoming President of one of Nevada’s most influential Democratic organizations, the Red Rock Democratic Club, and her potential interest in either a run for the state court of appeals or as possible replacement for the seat of retiring Nevada Chief Justice, James Hardesty, Albertson’s chameleon like nature is under scrutiny.
In the first sign of what one person involved in multiple Clark County judicial races referred to as “maybe just indecisiveness,” on the last day of filing for the 2020 judicial campaign Anna Albertson was caught by the Las Vegas Review Journal in a testy exchange with veteran communications tactician, Tom Letizia. Sparring in the open, Mr. Letizia questioned Ms. Albertson over her decision to leave a genial race for the family court judiciary only to abruptly parachute into what was destined to become a combative battle against the widely respected jurist Michael Villani. It wasn’t just the dumbfounded Letizia who questioned the wisdom of her decision at the time, as many in the legal community understood the uphill trek she was facing. Much later however, information was discovered which shed a presumptive light on what at the time seemed a rash decision by the first time candidate.
As the 2020 campaign cycle saw itself upended by the onset of the Covid-19 virus, Ms. Albertson became a ubiquitous presence on screens across the Vegas Valley, partaking in countless Zoom broadcast meet and greets, forums, interviews, and debates. Parlaying this growing notoriety into a viable candidacy, the removal of stay at home restrictions saw Anna Albertson become a whirlwind of in person activity as well.
During these gatherings Ms. Albertson began a concerted effort to attract the support of Clark County’s right wing electorate. Under the guise of non-partisanship, Albertson invoked the support of, and curried friendship with, a significant amount of hardcore Donald Trump supporters. This outreach effort included Paul Laramie, President of the Republican Chamber of Commerce, former proud boy and right wing firebrand Matt Anthony, Nap Berciles, a major Trump advocate to the AAPI community, and gun rights proponent Cody Cunningham, who reached out to Ms. Albertson on social media, ultimately working to inflame political passions on her behalf. While these gentlemen took an active interest in the political process, supporting a person whose beliefs they believed aligned with theirs, one major component of Albertson’s political background was kept shrouded in secrecy from them.
Despite a dalliance with Las Vegas’ alt right community, one which eventually became a fully fledged partnership through the use of a notorious Republican operative, Anna Albertson willfully omitted a major component of her life from them. She was a proud member of the Las Vegas chapter of Democratic Socialist’s of America.
The inevitable ending of summer during an election year brings a halt to the tedium and doldrums of political contests with the beginning of September signifying the final, excited sprint to the general election finish. As Ms. Albertson saw poll numbers put her within reach of beating the incumbent, she doubled down on her conservative credentials, hiring the McShane firm to guide the final stanza of her efforts to unseat the sitting judge. Rory McShane, who counts Paul Gosar, Winsome Sears, and the Nevada GOP among his list of Trump aligned clients, enthusiastically took the reins of the Albertson campaign.
In addition to financial remuneration, upon accepting the challenge of trying to conjure a win for Albertson, the wily McShane team also extracted another payment from her. She would need to play down her previously progressive inclinations, while completely disavowing her membership in the DSA.
Her socialism became an inside joke among the certain McShane employees, in one text message obtained from a campaign insider, the company's chief of staff, Woodrow Johnston, wrote the following.
“Heh if Anna wins...it will be the second socialist you referred to me to help elect.” He ended it with a laughing emoji.
The laughing stopped however late in the campaign when Ms. Albertson received a full endorsement from the Las Vegas DSA, which she promptly added to her website. Doing this within a day of a poll she commissioned showing her having pulled to within the margin of error against Judge Villani, the McShane team told her to remove this endorsement from across social media sites. The judicial hopeful dutifully complied.
As the whisker close race careened toward its conclusion, another battle front was opened by the now warring Legal Angel. Relating to a late endorsement given to her opponent, this fight would result in a grudge that would carry on well past the November 3rd election.
While partaking in a Zoom meeting attended by multiple attorneys, Ms. Albertson engaged in a public confrontation with Berna Rhodes-Ford. Ms. Rhodes-Ford, a respected lawyer and community leader, is also the wife of the Nevada Attorney General. Shocked by the the forceful way in which Albertson came at her, while desperately trying to diffuse the situation as diplomatically as possible, Rhodes-Ford suggested that Ms. Albertson’s grievances be brought up directly to her husband, Aaron Ford.
In a fiery exchange confirmed by multiple sources, a cell phone call later commenced from Ms. Alberton’s vehicle where she accosted Mr. Ford for having the temerity to endorse Mr. Villani. While Mr. Ford has not commented on the conversation, it is further believed that during this call she threatened him over his potential re-election in 2022, promising to make him a one term Attorney General. This promise made in the fall of 2020 prompted Ms. Albertson to join her new compatriots in supporting Sigal Chattah’s challenge for the AG post in the spring of 2021.
With polling unreliable, knowing she was close to pulling off the upset, Albertson was stuck. Thanks to the major names in the Democratic party coming out against her late in the race, who in addition to the aforementioned Attorney General, included Congresswoman Dina Titus, Albertson was left bereft of options to galvanize her own base.
Moving forward in an attempt to siphon voters from anywhere, Ms. Albertson placed a phone call. This resulted in an exchange which to many outside observers would have been unfathomable but made perfect sense between the two candidates involved. The DSA endorsed, turned right wing adherent, Albertson, called Turning Point USA ambassador Katie Williams for help. At that time an aspirant for Clark County School Trustee, Ms. Williams took the call, and after listening to Albertson’s anguished pitch, and doubting the veracity of her promises, turned Ms. Albertson down.
Finally election day arrived and that evening as election night vote tabulations began, it became apparent that Ms. Albertson’s gamble on winning through Republican support and the Republican campaign eco-system was not enough. Ultimately her attempt at taking over Department 17 bench failed, losing to the now re-elected Judge Villani by 3%. Immediately after, according to those close to Albertson, she started looking at new races.
Counting out a grudge match with Mr. Ford, now that she found a proxy in Ms. Chattah, there are strong indications coming from the Clark County political class that the Department 17 runner up is looking at challenging for the Appeals Court seat currently held by Judge Jerry Tao. Chief Justice Hardesty’s retirement has also brought about significant chatter, with the name Anna Albertson being bandied about for that as well.
While financially supporting what some analysts say are extreme positions by Ms. Chattah, including the abolishment of mask protocols, her engagement in Covid vaccine court battles and a rabid pro 2nd amendment stance, Ms. Albertson renewed her ties to those groups on the left of the political spectrum. By increasing her participation in DSA meetings, and taking control of the Red Rock Dems, Albertson is boldly pushing ahead with her future plans. This time, in trying to engage with all ideologies at once, while undercutting one of the state’s most popular and respected public servants, one who hails from her own party, Albertson’s brash strategy is either brilliant or destined for a further exercise in futility.
Problematically for her one other major issue still lingers. This relating to the curious switch of races she engaged in on that fateful January day, doing so in spite of Mr. Letizia’s warnings. After the election wound down, an investigation was undertaken by Mr. Villani’s personal lawyer, Theodore “Teddy” Parker, into damning allegations lodged versus Ms. Albertson.
Pursuing that lead, Mr. Parker found credible indications that Ms. Albertson attempted to shop potentially devastating information about her opponent. While the contents in question were highly personal, they didn’t affect Mr. Villani’s ability to carry out his duties on the bench nor did they reflect poorly on him in any personal way. To Albertson however they were the proverbial smoking gun, the key to an assured victory, yet no outlet was willing to go forward with the information she peddled, nor did she have the fortitude to release them herself. In her attempts to allegedly sully Judge Villani’s reputation, Ms. Albertson was thought to have potentially violated a multitude of judicial campaign ethics, opening up her character to additional inspection, with signed affidavits in Mr. Parker’s possession attesting to her actions and the events surrounding them.
With the Red Rock Dems recent officer elections, and judicial filing dates rapidly approaching this coming January, Anna Albertson again finds herself in the midst of the political maelstrom. Having been elected to her upcoming Presidency in an uncontested manner , the question of where she finds her next victory, and if she finds it all, will ultimately be a question for the voters across a much wider swath of the populace.