Federal authorities confirmed Thursday that Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is under investigation for failing to properly report gifts or payments from a software company that was awarded secret military contracts when he was in Congress.
The newly elected Republican governor’s office issued a statement saying that while he was a close friend of the company owner, Warren Trepp, there was “no special power” that Gibbons could provide in awarding defense contracts to the company.
Trepp, a former chief trader for convicted junk-bond dealer Michael Milken, also has denied any wrongdoing. He didn’t immediately return calls Thursday to his office at his eTreppid Technologies LLC in Reno.
A federal law enforcement official confirmed the FBI probe. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said the inquiry is focusing on what role Gibbons played in awarding military contracts to eTreppid Technologies and whether he received any gifts in exchange.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that investigators are looking at whether federal contracting rules were violated in the case involving Gibbons, who was sworn in last month as governor after five terms in Congress, where he served on the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees.
Gibbons had asked the House ethics committee in November for an opinion about whether he improperly reported private jet flights and a Caribbean cruise paid for by Trepp, whose company has millions of dollars worth of classified federal software contracts from the Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and the CIA.
‘Erase this message ... right now!’
The Journal reported new evidence had emerged in a lawsuit in Reno, including e-mails to Trepp discussing a payment or gifts to then-Rep. Gibbons. The e-mails also show Gibbons using his congressional office to help the company seek classified military and civilian contracts, the newspaper said.
“Please don’t forget to bring the money you promised Jim and Dawn,” Trepp’s wife, Jale Trepp, said in a March 22, 2005, e-mail days before Trepp and his wife embarked on the Caribbean cruise with Jim Gibbons and his wife, Dawn, a former Nevada state assemblywoman.
According to the Journal, Trepp responded minutes later saying: “Don’t you ever send this kind of message to me! Erase this message from your computer right now!”
Gibbons did not disclose the cruise and travel on Trepp’s leased private jet, as required by House ethics rules. He later asked the House Ethics Committee for an exemption, but left office before any action was taken.
Trepp’s attorney, Steven Peek, told the Journal that Trepp “has had no inquires or questions from any federal officials about his relationship with Jim Gibbons.”