Catherine Cortez Masto

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Catherine Cortez Masto
Catherine Cortez Masto (cropped).jpg
32nd Attorney General of Nevada
In office
January 1, 2007 – January 5, 2015
Governor Jim Gibbons
Brian Sandoval
Preceded by George Chanos
Succeeded by Adam Laxalt
Personal details
Born Catherine Marie Cortez
(1964-03-29) March 29, 1964 (age 52)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Paul Masto
Alma mater University of Nevada, Reno
Gonzaga University
Website Campaign website

Catherine Marie Cortez Masto (born 1964) is a candidate for the 2016 U.S. Senate election in Nevada.[1] She was the Attorney General of Nevada from 2007 to 2015, elected to replace George Chanos. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Cortez Masto was not eligible to run for a third term in 2014 due to lifetime term limits established by the Nevada Constitution.

Early life[edit]

Cortez Masto was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, the daughter of Joanna (née Musso) and Manny Cortez.[2] Her father was the longtime head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and also served as a Clark County Commissioner and as an attorney for the county.[3] Manny Cortez, now deceased, and Harry Reid had a longstanding friendship.[4]

Education and law career[edit]

Cortez Masto earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1986 and a J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1990.[5]

She was admitted to the State Bar of Nevada in 1990, the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada in 1991 and the U.S. Court of Appeals, for the Ninth Circuit in 1994. She is married to Paul Masto, a former Special Agent in the United States Secret Service.[6]

Her career includes four years as a civil attorney in Las Vegas and two years as a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. She also served as former Nevada Democratic Governor Bob Miller’s chief of staff.[4]

In 2014, Cortez Masto was named executive vice chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The Board of Regents never voted on the hire and it was unclear if other candidates were considered.[7]

Nevada Attorney General[edit]

In 2009, Cortez Masto's office launched an investigation against Brian Krolicki, the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Nevada. Krolicki faced felony charges related to allegations that he mishandled the Nevada College Savings Trust Fund when he was state treasurer. During the investigation, the Las Vegas Review-Journal discovered that Cortez Masto's husband, Paul, planned to host a fundraising party for Robert S. Randazzo, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, four days before the attorney general's office was scheduled to prosecute Krolicki. Cortez Masto said she was unaware of the fundraising party.[8] The charges against Krolicki were ultimately dismissed in Clark County District Court.[9] The dismissal of charges against Krolicki was regarded as a political setback for Cortez Masto, who, according to the Las Vegas Sun, "opened herself to charges of politicizing her office and prosecutorial misconduct."[10]

In 2010, Cortez Masto's office began investigating Bank of America, accusing the company of raising interest rates on troubled borrowers. Her office sought to end Nevada's participation in a loan modification settlement in order to sue the bank over alleged deceptive marketing and lending practices. Bank of America denied any wrongdoing.[11] The lawsuit was settled in 2012 for $750 million for lien reductions and short sales.[12]

Cortez Masto defended the state of Nevada's position in the lawsuit Sevcik v. Sandoval. The lawsuit challenged Nevada's denial of same-sex marriage as prohibited by the state's constitution and statutory law. After initially defending the state's same-sex marriage ban,[13] Cortez Masto and the state abandoned their defense of the ban in light of a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[14]

2016 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

Cortez Masto declined to run for Governor of Nevada in the 2014 election.[15] When U.S. Senator Harry Reid decided not to run for re-election in the 2016 election, he endorsed Cortez Masto as his successor.[4] Cortez Masto's campaign is expected to rely heavily on the political infrastructure Reid has assembled.[16]


  1. ^ DelReal, Jose (April 8, 2015). "Catherine Cortez Masto announces bid to succeed Harry Reid in the Senate, gets DSCC backing". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  2. ^ Las Vegas High School Alumni Association: "MANUEL J. CORTEZ (Class of 1956)" retrieved February 15, 2016
  3. ^ "Former Las Vegas convention chief Cortez dies at 67". Las Vegas Sun. 19 June 2006. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Drusch, Andrea (March 27, 2015). "Meet the Woman Harry Reid Wants to Replace Him in the Senate". National Journal. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  5. ^ "Alumni Profile: Catherine Cortez Masto". Gonzaga School of Law. March 19, 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Vogel, Ed (November 24, 2009). "Krolicki case might take twist". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  7. ^ McCabe, Francis (November 25, 2014). "Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto named to higher ed post". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  8. ^ Vogel, Ed (November 24, 2009). "Krolicki case might take twist". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  9. ^ McCoy, Cara (December 7, 2009). "Charges dismissed against Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  10. ^ Coolican, J. Patrick (December 8, 2009). "Cortez Masto's shining star dims after Krolicki decision". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  11. ^ Morgenson, Gretchen (August 30, 2011). "Nevada Says Bank Broke Mortgage Settlement". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ Rosenblatt, Joel (February 9, 2012). "Bank of America Settles With Nevada Attorney General Masto". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  13. ^ Whaley, Sean (January 22, 2014). "Nevada legal brief defends state's same-sex marriage ban". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  14. ^ Ford, Zack (February 11, 2014). "Nevada Abandons Its Defense Of Same-Sex Marriage Ban". ThinkProgress. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  15. ^ Doughman, Andrew (September 19, 2013). "Cortez Masto: I'm not running for governor". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved September 20, 2013. 
  16. ^ Kane, Paul (November 17, 2015). "Harry Reid, retiring but betting big on Nevada for Democratic Senate majority". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
George Chanos
Attorney General of Nevada
Succeeded by
Adam Laxalt
Party political offices
Preceded by
Harry Reid
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Nevada
(Class 3)

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