Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) left thousands of rape kits untested during her time as Nevada’s attorney general until Republican Adam Laxalt, who formerly held the position and is now running against her for U.S. Senate, secured millions of dollars to clear the backlog and make dozens of arrests.
Towards the end of the eight years Cortez Masto spent as Nevada’s attorney general in October 2014, a national nonprofit found that only 16 percent of the 5,231 rape kits collected in Las Vegas were examined from 2004 to 2013 — meaning roughly 4,400 were left untested, as the Washington Free Beacon first reported.
In fact, the number of untested kits reached as high as 7,500 statewide, which prompted him to promise during his 2014 campaign to “clear up the backlog.” He ended up securing $3.7 million from Nevada lawmakers to test 7,500 sexual assault evidence kits, helping him clean up the backlog, which he did by November 2018 after 7,400 kits were sent to labs.
The Free Beacon noted that some tests led to high-profile arrests, including when the police arrested a 49-year-old Las Vegas man in November 2020 for a sexual assault that a woman reported in 2012 under Cortez Masto. The kit reportedly went untested until 2018, when Laxalt helped clear the backlog.
Fast forward four years, and Laxalt is looking to unseat Cortez Masto in the upcoming midterm election. If Laxalt is able to flip the seat, he may help determine the majority in the upper chamber as it currently is split 50-5o.
Polling earlier this month from the Trafalgar Group showed Laxalt leading Cortez Masto outside of the survey’s margin of error. The former Nevada attorney general led Cortez Masto — widely considered one of the most at-risk Democrats — by 47 percent to 43 percent. The four-point lead is notably outside the survey’s 2.9 percent margin of error.
As the incumbent Democrat senator left thousands of untested kits on shelves during her time as attorney general, her campaign website claims she “kept our communities safe” and “made it her mission to stand up for vulnerable women and girls.”
Laxalt told the Free Beacon:
By doing nothing about the thousands of untested sexual assault kits, Masto neglected victims and allowed violent criminals and killers to prey on more people. …Fixing this egregious failure was one of my top priorities as AG, and we moved heaven and earth to process those kits quickly and get justice for the victims. I cleaned up her mess before, and I’m ready to do it again in the U.S. Senate.
The Free Beacon’s report also acknowledged that Cortez Masto faced criticism during her 2016 election over the backlog of test kits. The Mitch McConnell-backed super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, took out ads at the time highlighting that “thousands of rape kits were never sent for DNA analysis.”
PolitiFact also wrote in 2016 that it was “hard to find any evidence that [Cortez Masto] took on the specific problem of the state’s rape kit backlog while in office from 2006 to 2014,” while it added that her now-challenger Laxalt “was able to secure roughly $3.7 million in grants and redirected settlement funds to pay for funding the backlog about a year after taking office.”
Disclosure: Breitbart News is represented by Cooper & Kirk, PLLC. Adam Laxalt is a partner at Cooper & Kirk. He is not actively engaged or working on any matters for Breitbart News.