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Anatomy of a Political Smear: John Lee’s Fight Against iPad Allegations

(Chuck Muth) – At the 2024 Clark County Republican Party convention last month, some ham-handed political knuckleheads placed flyers on the windshields of attendees’ cars which were a reprint of a Las Vegas Review-Journal article from a DECADE ago.

The headline read, “FBI to investigate report of child porn on North Las Vegas mayor’s iPad,” giving the false impression that the mayor had been caught viewing kiddie porn – which is not what happened at all.

And it’s not a stretch to assume the anonymously-dropped flyers were distributed by the GOP primary opponent to former Mayor John Lee, who is now running for Congress.

Naturally, the flyer-droppers – who were not captured on surveillance videos – didn’t include follow-up articles in which the investigation was dismissed – TWICE.  Here’s the rest of the story…

Back in October 2014, Lee received an unsolicited email which included pornographic images that raised concerns over possible sex trafficking of minors.

The concerns were particularly sharp and personal because Lee has four daughters and 14 granddaughters. So he did the right thing: He reported it to law enforcement authorities.  See something/say something and all that.

Now, anyone with an email address knows all about “spam.”

Once spammers get your email address you never know what you’ll receive – anything from requests to invest in a Nigerian diamond mine to solicitations to contribute money to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

After receiving such spam emails, most people just block them so they don’t receive such garbage in the future.

But because this particular email sent to Mayor Lee suggested something far worse than a mere “scam,” he hoped law enforcement might be able to track down the source and assure that no minor children were being sex trafficked.

So the mayor gave his iPad to North Las Vegas Police officials who launched an investigation.  A few weeks later, the detective in charge of the Division on Cyber Crimes returned the iPad and reported that they were unable to locate the email or identify the sender.

The detective reported that while he did “locate several possible photos that could be considered child pornography” he “could not verify the age of the people pictured” since they were in a different country.  He also advised that the iPad had been taken to an Apple store and wiped clean of the offending material.

Case closed.  Or so you would think.

Payback Time

According to Lee, when he was elected mayor in 2013, he “inherited a police chief (Joseph Chronister) who had been passed over by the previous mayor and city council two times before he was finally promoted Chief of Police.”

Personalities clashed and swords crossed.

“I was immediately challenged by this person,” Lee told me.  “He was belligerent and dictatorial and wanted to let me and the new council know that he was in charge of the police department and not agreeable to working with us.”

Lee advised that Chronister “abused his powers” and had numerous complaints filed against him with the city council by police union members.  “After many attempts to control him,” Lee said, “the City Manager took away his powers to discipline his officers and staff.”

After that 2014 decision, Chronister “knew his future as chief was in doubt” and a few months later “he could sense his termination was imminent.”  That was the spring of 2015.

“In the final days of the police chief’s employment with the city,” Lee continued, “he ordered his lieutenant to get him a copy of the police file of my iPad investigation” and then “called a reporter at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and gave her a copy of the investigation file.”

The reporter, Bethany Barnes, published a story on the iPad investigation on May 7, 2015 – not coincidentally the same day Chief Chronister retired with full benefits.

In his interview with Ms. Barnes, Chronister “said that while one of his detectives investigated” the iPad incident, “he now wishes his department had done more and had sought help from an outside agency” because the mayor “has the ability to control certain aspects of our department.”

“If there should have been a more thorough and in-depth investigation, then I guess that’s my fault, maybe, for not telling the detective to go on,” Chronister told Ms. Barnes.  “I’m not an expert in this arena at all.”

Nice Monday morning quarterbacking there, huh?  How convenient.

The next day, Ms. Barnes wrote a follow-up article in which the usual left-wing goofball suspects decided to take political advantage of the controversy.  Laura Martin of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) and Annette Magnus of Battle Born Progress slammed Lee and called for a new investigation.

A few days later – May 12, 2015 – the Review-Journal published the article that was left on GOP convention delegates’ windshields last month.  In it, reporter Colton Lochhead reported that the FBI would conduct “an independent review” of the iPad incident.

The next day, Mr. Lochhead detailed the original investigating detective’s report, which was released in response to Ms. Barnes’ articles.  It included a statement from Mayor Lee…

“Not only are the allegations currently being made against me completely and absolutely false, I strongly resent any implication that I have engaged in any improper conduct or behavior.

“It is unfortunate that some individuals who might not have agreed with the political and leadership decisions that I have made in order to benefit the City of North Las Vegas have decided to make irresponsible, harmful and egregious allegations against me with impacts far beyond my political career.

“As evidenced by the North Las Vegas Police report released today, there was nothing illegal on my iPad and all standard procedures were followed. I am disheartened that, by proactively contacting the police department to address something I found very concerning, the situation has been grossly misrepresented by some in the public, calling into question my character.”

In an editorial published the same day, the RJ noted how convenient it was for Chronister to second-guess himself on “the day he retired” and noted the North Las Vegas Police Department “shouldn’t have pursued the case at all.  Another police force should have been given the case from the start.”

Case Closed – Again

Fast-forward to September 10, 2015.

In a new article, Ms. Barnes reminded readers that a copy of the iPad’s contents had been given to the FBI for review but announced that “The FBI notified the North Las Vegas Police Department that it doesn’t have enough information from the department to take action.”

Two days later, RJ columnist John L. Smith wrote about an interview he did with Mayor Lee the day after the FBI again closed the closed case.

Smith noted that Chronister’s born-again regrets at not turning the initial investigation over to someone else “smacked of hand-wringing for political purposes,” adding that “if Chronister had a genuine concern, professional ethics would compel him to pick up the phone.”

In the interview, Lee reasserted his motivation in voluntarily turning his iPad over to law enforcement authorities for investigation.  “I was turning it in to report a crime,” he said.  “I tried to do what was right.”

“There sems to be dissatisfied employees who are very unhappy with some of the decisions I’ve made,” Lee continued.  “That’s their personal issue. … I’m very satisfied that what I did was 100 percent right.  I would do it again.  My heart knew exactly what I was doing.  I would stand up and do the same thing again.”

Alas, especially in politics, no good deed goes unpunished.

That includes the bush-league campaign tactic by the political opponent, consultant, and/or activists who surreptitiously placed copies of only part of the iPad story on the windshields of delegates attending the Clark County Republican Party convention.

If Mr. Lee’s GOP primary challenger, David Flippo, was behind the leafletting, he owes Mayor Lee an apology and assurance it won’t happen again.  If he didn’t know about it – and it was done by someone on his campaign team – heads should roll.

Even in contact sports, there are rules against cheap shots.


“Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” – Former Reagan Labor Secretary Ray Donovan after being cleared of false fraud charges

Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of  You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at  His views are his own.


This blog/website is written and paid for by…me, Chuck Muth, a United States citizen. I publish my opinions under the rights afforded me by the Creator and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as adopted by our Founding Fathers on September 17, 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without registering with any government agency or filling out any freaking reports. And anyone who doesn’t like it can take it up with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and John Adams the next time you run into each other.

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