Oscar Goodman

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Oscar Goodman
Oscar Goodman (9260381470) (1).jpg
21st Mayor of Las Vegas
In office
June 8, 1999 – July 6, 2011
Preceded byJan Laverty Jones
Succeeded byCarolyn Goodman
Personal details
Oscar Baylin Goodman

(1939-07-26) July 26, 1939 (age 82)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyIndependent (2009–present)
Other political
Democratic (1989–2009)
(m. 1962)
Children4, including Ross
ResidenceLas Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Alma materHaverford College (B.A.)
University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D.)
ProfessionAttorney and politician

Oscar Baylin Goodman (born July 26, 1939) is an American attorney and politician. He was the mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada from 1999 to 2011. His wife, Carolyn Goodman, succeeded him as mayor in 2011. Goodman is an independent.[1]


Goodman was born and raised in a Jewish family in Philadelphia. After attending Central High School[2] for a time, he graduated from The Haverford School,[3] Haverford College, and received his J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He and his wife Carolyn have four children.

During his career as a defense attorney, he represented defendants accused of being some of the leading organized crime figures in Las Vegas, such as: Meyer Lansky, Nicky Scarfo, Herbert "Fat Herbie" Blitzstein, Phil Leonetti, former Stardust Casino boss Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, and Jamiel "Jimmy" Chagra, a 1970s drug trafficker who was acquitted of ordering the murder of Federal Judge John H. Wood, Jr. One of his notorious clients was reputed Chicago mobster Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro, who was known to have a short and violent temper. In the semi-factual 1995 movie Casino, the character of Nicky Santoro was based on Spilotro, and was portrayed by actor Joe Pesci. Goodman had a cameo appearance in the film as himself, where he was depicted defending “Ace Rothstein,” a character closely based on Lefty Rosenthal, and played by Robert De Niro.

In 1964, Goodman and his wife became active in the local Jewish federation soon after they moved to Las Vegas. Carolyn eventually served as head of the federation's women's divisions.[4]

Goodman also represented former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock, who was convicted of accepting illegal campaign contributions, and eventually forced to resign. Hedgecock was later cleared of all charges on appeal.

Through the years of 1980–81, he served as president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.[5] Goodman was a senior partner in the law firm of Goodman & Chesnoff.[6] Goodman currently serves as Of Counsel to Goodman Law Group, a Las Vegas law firm formed by his son, Ross C. Goodman.[7]

On June 8, 1999, Goodman was elected mayor of Las Vegas after he received 63.76% (32,765) of the votes, while his opponent, then-Las Vegas City Councilman Arnie Adamsen, received 36.24% (18,620). In 2003, Goodman was re-elected to a second four-year term , and defeated five opponents after he received 85.72% (29,356) of the votes. On April 3, 2007, he was re-elected to a third and final term, with 83.69% (26,845) of the votes, and once again defeated five opponents.[8] Despite having been called Las Vegas’ “most popular mayor,”[9] the city has term limit laws that restrict mayors to a maximum of three terms. In 2011, Carolyn Goodman was elected to succeed her husband as mayor, after she earned 60% of the votes.[10]

Goodman was a member of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority before being elected mayor.

Significant or notable events[edit]

Goodman in 2003

Goodman appeared as himself in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film Casino. Later on, he made another brief appearance in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action in the DVD extras. In 2006, he appeared as himself in the Direct-to-DVD film Bachelor Party Vegas. Additionally, Goodman did interviews for the television programs The Making of the Mob: New York and The Making of the Mob: Chicago in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

On June 28, 1999, Goodman was the first mayor of Las Vegas to have his image placed on $5 and $25 casino chips issued by a Las Vegas casino. The two chips were issued by the Four Queens Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas. In 2006, the Four Queens put out a $200 Silver Strike with the likeness of Goodman on it.

In 2000, a bobblehead doll was issued as a promotion during a Las Vegas 51s baseball game.

Mayor Goodman was invited as a celebrity photographer for the Playboy Cyber Club. He shot a topless pictorial of Miss January 2001 Irina Voronina for the website.

In 2002, he became a spokesman for Bombay Sapphire gin, and was paid a $100,000 salary, which he claimed was donated to charity. $50,000 was donated to The Meadows School, a private school in Las Vegas founded by his wife, Carolyn.

In 2003, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith wrote a book titled Of Rats and Men: Oscar Goodman's Life from Mob Mouthpiece to Mayor of Las Vegas, which chronicled Goodman's life. The novel included the 35 years Goodman spent defending notorious U.S. crime figures and mafia members.

In 2003, Goodman was voted the “Least Effective Public Official” in the Review-Journal's annual reader's poll.[11]

Goodman has been vocal about having a Major League Baseball team relocate to Las Vegas. In 2004, the city failed to secure a move by the Montreal Expos to the city. Instead, the team relocated to Washington, D.C., and became the Washington Nationals. Later that year, Goodman met with officials of the Florida Marlins. The Chicago White Sox had considered a move, but negotiations failed after Chicago officials provided incentives for the team to stay.[citation needed]

During his time as mayor, Goodman tried to get a National Football League team to relocate to Las Vegas. On April 24, 2006, he called the San Diego Chargers, and asked if they would be interested in moving. Because of a contract, the city could not talk about a possible move. On January 4, 2007, he called again, since the team was not allowed to talk to other cities about a possible move. Again, Goodman was turned down “for the time being.”[12] According to Mark Fabiani, the Chargers’ general counsel, Goodman was a longtime season ticket holder of the Chargers, and a fan of the team.[13] The Chargers ultimately decided to relocate to Los Angeles instead. In 2017, under the tenure of Carolyn Goodman as mayor, the Oakland Raiders agreed to relocate to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

In 2009 and 2010, Goodman was angered by President Barack Obama's negative remarks about Las Vegas.[14]

He guest-starred as himself three times on the CBS series CSI. The episodes Goodman were featured in included: “Sqweegel,” where he defended Ann-Margret's character from being harassed by the LVPD; “Maid Man,” where he first appeared at the opening of the Mob Museum, which was re-created for the show in advance of its opening; and “Last Rollout,” as a lawyer for a suspect during an interrogation.[15]

His memoir, Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas,[16] written with George Anastasia, was published in 2013.[17]

Seeking higher office[edit]

In 2006, Goodman briefly entertained challenging Jack Carter, the son of President Carter, for the Democratic nomination to run against the incumbent Republican, U.S. Senator John Ensign. However, on April 20, Goodman announced that he would not run, but instead, would run for a third term as mayor. After winning the mayoral election in 2007, Goodman, like his counterpart Michael Bloomberg in New York City, looked into a means to change the city charter to remove term limits.[18] In the absence of that change, Goodman fueled speculation that he might run as an Independent in the 2010 gubernatorial race against incumbent, Republican Jim Gibbons, and the presumptive Democratic candidate, Rory Reid.[19] However, Goodman decided not to run for governor, citing his desire to stay close to his family, and objections to moving to the capital, Carson City.[20] Goodman has appeared interested in higher office, and was the focus of a story (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) about being the first Jewish president of the United States by Las Vegas commentator Dayvid Figler.[21]


Ethics investigation[edit]

In February 2004, Robert Rose, an ethics watchdog, filed a complaint with the Nevada Commission on Ethics claiming that during the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Goodman handed out to fellow mayors, conference attendees and other political figures invitations to a cocktail party Goodman was hosting. Rose alleged that this was nothing more than the mayor abusing his power of office to help promote a business that is owned by his son, Ross Goodman, and Las Vegas Councilman Michael Mack. The Nevada Ethics Commission opened an investigation on April 14, 2004, and on May 13, 2004, the members of the commission found the mayor in ethics violations, although no fine was rendered. Goodman sued the commission and won; the commission's ruling was reversed by the court.

On September 16, 2004, Rose again filed a complaint with the Nevada Commission on Ethics, this time asking the commission to clarify Goodman's affiliation with his son Ross's law firm. In a statement, the mayor explained his name on the letterhead is a way of informing out of state law firms that Ross Goodman is his son. However, a person serving as an elected public official in Nevada may not have his name listed on a law firm letterhead, and Goodman removed his name under protest after several newspaper articles noted the infraction.[22]

On July 18, 2005, the Nevada Commission on Ethics concluded insufficient cause for a hearing and recommended the allegations be dismissed, clearing Goodman of the ethics complaint regarding his name listed as "Of Counsel" to Goodman Law Group.[23]

On September 11, 2007, the Supreme Court of Nevada ruled that Goodman did not violate any ethics laws during the 2004 cocktail party that he hosted on behalf of his son Ross C. Goodman.[24]

Remarks to schoolchildren[edit]

On March 3, 2005, Goodman spoke to a group of fourth-graders at Jo Mackey Elementary School. When asked what he would take with him if marooned on a desert island, the mayor replied, "A bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin." When asked about his hobbies, the mayor named drinking Bombay Sapphire Gin as a favorite. Later, when asked to comment about his statements, Goodman was unapologetic: "I'm the George Washington of mayors. I can't tell a lie. If they didn't want the answer, the kid shouldn't have asked the question." This caused an outcry from parents whose children heard the remark, and school officials said the remark was inappropriate.[25][26]

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas[edit]

In July 2006 Goodman criticized the Ubisoft game Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas for its premise of terrorism in Las Vegas, because he thought it may tarnish the city's image. He stated, "It's based on a false premise.... It could be harmful economically, and it may be something that's not entitled to free speech (protection).... I will ask... whether or not we can stop it."[27] Publication of the game was not hindered.

Legalized prostitution[edit]

Currently, prostitution is legal in Nevada only in rural counties with fewer than 400,000 residents, a requirement which excludes Clark County and the city of Las Vegas from allowing the practice. Goodman supports legalizing prostitution in the city's downtown area as a revenue generator and tool for revitalization,[28] although a majority of Nevadans polled in 2003 opposed the mayor's position.[29] Goodman's views on prostitution have been criticized by The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert,[30] as well as Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goodman Switches Party Affiliation. KXNT, Ret. December 16th 2009[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ List of alumni of Central High School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  3. ^ Oscar Goodman, "Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas--Only in America", (Weinstein Books, 2013), p. 277
  4. ^ "How the mayor of Las Vegas succeeded her husband, the Jewish 'Donald Trump'". 23 February 2016.
  5. ^ "NACDL - Past Presidents". www.nacdl.org.
  6. ^ "Las Vegas Review-Journal". Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  7. ^ "About Ross C. Goodman". www.GoodmanLawGroup.com. Archived from the original on 2011-09-25. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
  8. ^ "Three mismatched mayors find common ground downtown". lvrj.com. 2011-04-03. Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  9. ^ "MID-August '06 Celebrity Scene Column". Vegascommunityonline.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
  10. ^ Goldberg, Delen (June 7, 2011). "Carolyn Goodman easily wins race for Las Vegas mayor". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  11. ^ "BOLV Long Return". Reviewjournal.com. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
  12. ^ "Chargers turn down offer to move to Vegas". North County Times. 2007-01-05. Retrieved 2007-01-05.
  13. ^ Powell, Ronald (2007-01-05). "Las Vegas woos Chargers". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-01-05.
  14. ^ Mayor Oscar Goodman's reaction about Barack Obama's negative remarks on Las Vegas on YouTube
  15. ^ "Photos: Oscar Goodman is shot tonight on CBS hit 'CSI'". Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  16. ^ Goodman, Oscar (21 May 2013). Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas. Hachette Books. ISBN 978-1-60286-189-3.
  17. ^ Glionna, John M. (May 25, 2013). "Las Vegas tales from Oscar Goodman: mob lawyer, mayor, showman". The LA Times. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  18. ^ "Mayor eyes longevity". 9 January 2009.
  19. ^ Ball, Molly (2009-6-11), Goodman Eyes Race for Governor. Las Vegas Review-Journal http://www.lvrj.com/news/breaking_news/47891957.html
  20. ^ Powers, Ashley (January 25, 2010), Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman decides not to go for Nevada governor. "Los Angeles Times http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/01/oscar-goodman-nevada-governor.html
  21. ^ Figler, Dayvid HEEB Magazine, Issue 18, The First Jewish President Archived 2009-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Richmond, Emily (2006-07-19). "Stories published July 19, 2006Las Vegas Sun". Lasvegassun.com. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
  23. ^ Ryan, Cy (2005-07-28). "State Ethics Panel Clears Goodman on Complaint published July 28, 2005Las Vegas Sun". Lasvegassun.com. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
  24. ^ Vogel, Ed (2007-11-12). "Supreme Court sides with Mayor Goodman published Sep. 12, 2007, Las Vegas Review Journal". LVRJ.com. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
  25. ^ Koch, Ed. "Stories published March 2, 2005 Las Vegas Sun". Lasvegassun.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2007. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
  26. ^ "Here's Looking at You, Kid". Wired. AP. March 4, 2005. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  27. ^ McCauley, Dennis (2006-07-13). "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Rainbow Six ...maybe". GamePolitics.com. Archived from the original on 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  28. ^ Neff, Erin (2003-10-24). "LEGALIZED PROSTITUTION: Vegas brothels suggested". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  29. ^ Lake, Richard (2003-10-30). "Majority opposes legalizing prostitution in Las Vegas". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  30. ^ Herbert, Bob (2007-09-04). "City as Predator". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  31. ^ Ralston, Jon (2007-09-05). "Jon Ralston thinks New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has a pretty good take on Goodman". Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-09-10.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Las Vegas
June 8, 1999 – July 6, 2011
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Carolyn Goodman
as First Lady
First Gentleman of Las Vegas
July 6, 2011 – present
Succeeded by