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Nevada police investigating alleged Republican political extortion plot

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Las Vegas police are investigating a possible case of extortion intended to sway a Nevada legislator to change his vote for assembly speaker, searching a property on Saturday as part of the probe, authorities said.

The investigation began in December when newly elected Assemblyman Chris Edwards, a Republican, was approached about changing his vote on the question, Las Vegas Metropolitan police said in a statement.

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The probe comes after Republicans took control of the state legislature in the national mid-term election last November. Since then they have become embroiled in a bitter contest among themselves to choose the assembly speaker and on other issues such as taxes.

Las Vegas police said no arrests have been made and that their investigators would conduct interviews over the coming days. They released no further details.

“We don’t know the entire group of folks who might be involved but I can say there has been an investigation that has been going on since December,” Edwards told KSNV television on Saturday.

Edwards, who has served on active duty and on reserve in the U.S. Navy, is on the Assembly Education Committee as well as the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, according to his legislative page.

After the November election, a number of lawmakers from the state GOP’s most conservative wing rallied around Assemblyman Ira Hansen as their choice for speaker. But he was asked by Republican state Governor Brian Sandoval to step aside amid a controversy over some of his writings on race and gender, according to local media.

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Republican Assembly member John Hambrick was chosen to replace Hansen for the post, according to KSNV, which reported that Hambrick is backed by more moderate members of the GOP and that Edwards is one of the state party’s moderates.

A vote to formally select the Assembly speaker is scheduled for Monday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles)

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