Now that the photos are out showing Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbon's latest parking lot adventure with another woman, there is some back story to tell.
First, about that night. Our photographer Brad Horn was shooting pictures at the Reno Rodeo for the sports section. Another person there said he saw the gov sitting in the stands holding hands with some woman. Soon afterward, Brad looked up and here was Gibbons and the woman walking toward him. As soon as they saw the camera come up, the woman quickly walked ahead of the gov, trying to pretend they weren't together.
Later, Brad was in the media trailer outside the rodeo and saw the couple walk by, with the gov's arm around his lady friend. He was able to get two shots of them in the dark parking lot before they spotted him and separated.
When editor Barry Ginter first showed me the photos Monday morning, we assumed that the woman was Kathy Karrasch, the woman Gibbons' wife Dawn was accusing him of being "infatuated" with, and whom he had exchanged hundreds of text messages with before he realized he was using a state-owned cell phone.
But we soon found out that the woman was Leslie Sferrazza, ex-wife of former Reno Mayor (and current Justice of the Peace) Pete Sferrazza. If that wasn't bad enough, Leslie had posed for Playboy during her very public divorce battle with Pete back in 1989.
The Appeal staff was overly cautious about running the photos. Barry wanted a story to go with the photos. This wasn't the National Enquirer. But the gov kept dodging our questions, and no one else wanted to touch it. Finally, Gibbons did answer a couple of questions, which gave Barry the material with which he built his column around.
Now, it must be said that taken separately -- the photos, the text messages, the various sightings of Gibbons with other women, the alleged assault on Chrissy Mazzeo, everything -- they are all just circumstantial evidence that he is fooling around. But put them all together, and it's a pretty damming case.
I mean, what in the hell was Gibbons thinking, bringing ex-Playboy model to the rodeo where everyone could see him, while he's in the middle of a nasty divorce? Even if it was innocent, it was exceptionally stupid, if not purposefully reckless. Did he not think anyone would recognize him, or his date?
And this isn't the first time. There are also photos of Gibbons and Sferrazza eating at a Reno IHOP someone took on cell phone, and another sighting of them at a Relay for Life event. And there were many sightings of Gibbons and Karrasch together, acting like they were just another couple.
I really question his mental stability at this point. It seems he wants to get caught.
Another point I'd like to make is about Gibbons' security detail. You will notice in the photos there is no security with the gov. Now remember, this is the same guy who thought is was necessary to double his personal security force, and then staged a very strange midnight swearing in ceremony because of "security concerns." But he seems comfortable hanging out in dark parking lots without his security force. Guess they would spoil the mood.