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As Ruben Kihuen and David Marlon Embark on City Council Bids, Will Las Vegas Voters Declare #TimesUp on Abuse and Harassment?

Over the past couple days, we’ve been taking a closer look at “Dirty John” and the dirty truth about domestic and sexual violence. As this harrowing true crime story has sparked a new national conversation about what we must do to stop the abuse, we must begin much closer to home. Not one, but two men facing serious allegations of abuse and harassment are running for Las Vegas City Council, and it’s long past time we ask: When will we finally declare #TimesUp on the abuse that’s tainting our public sphere?

After Ruben Kihuen’s disgraceful departure from Congress, he comes home… To run for another office.
Photo by Andrew Davey

There was once a time when Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) was perceived to be a local progressive hero and Nevada Democratic rising star. As the first DREAMer elected to Congress, he was often seen as a leader on immigration reform, though he’d later branch out and become more visible on other issues, like environmental justice and health care. And as someone who got his start as a Nevada State Democratic Party organizer, he quickly earned then U.S. Senator Harry Reid’s (D) favor and gained Reid’s blessing as he began ascending the political ladder, first in the Nevada Legislature and then in Congress.

Kihuen’s ascent reached new heights after his 2016 election victory, but it didn’t last long. In December 2017, BuzzFeed News and The Nevada Independent ran stories detailing Kihuen’s pattern of harassing women who worked with him and for him. A year later, the House Ethics Committee released a report confirming these media reports of Kihuen repeatingly making unwanted sexual advances while serving in the Nevada Legislature, during his 2016 campaign, and even when he began his one term in Congress, the one term that ended last December.

And yet, despite his retirement that seemingly jeopardized the 4th Congressional District (NV-04) for Democrats until Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) secured a comfortable victory over former Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Bunkerville) last November, Kihuen is now running for Las Vegas City Council. It’s far from unexpected, yet this right here illustrates the larger problem of Kihuen and his political career. Even after Samantha Register stepped forward to detail Kihuen’s abuse and the DCCC (or Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) officials who looked the other way, she and her family have suffered further psychological and emotional damages while Kihuen’s been plotting his outrageous attempt at a political comeback.

But wait, there’s more. What’s going on with David Marlon?

In case Ruben Kihuen’s Las Vegas City Council campaign doesn’t seem outrageous enough, the Nevada Current’s Dana Gentry has recently dug into another City Council candidate’s sketchy past. Until very recently, David Marlon was known as the successful founder and President of Solutions Recovery, a Las Vegas addiction recovery center, and Nevada Regional Vice President of American Addiction Centers (AAC). Not only had Marlon himself overcome addiction and lived sober for over a decade, but he had also won accolades from colleagues for his work in the addiction recovery field.

After Gentry uncovered records of four deaths occurring under AAC and Solutions Recovery programs, she then revealed a 2012 Las Vegas Metro Police report that includes then-spouse Erin’s allegation of David Marlon abusing her. He’s disputed that report, claiming Erin retaliated after he attempted to confront her relapse into drug addiction. Erin, however, has since come forward to state she was never battling addiction, and that he had pressured her not to testify against him.

“While David’s tactics scared me, they also worked,” Erin Marlon told the Nevada Current. She continued, “I did not and do not believe the document to be true, but in the end I was 26 years old and he was 48. Like many women, I was scared, I was in love and wanted to fix my marriage.” The 2012 Metro Police report corroborates Erin’s version of the story, and notes how “David had several inconsistencies with his story”.

Why does this sound so eerily familiar?

Over the past couple days, we’ve been taking a closer look at the “Dirty John” story and the ugly truth about abuse. Like other prominent abusers, John Meehan presented himself as the ultimate “good guy”. Yet behind Meehan’s well crafted facade of respectability, he was a dangerous predator who sought to destroy those who dared to challenge him. Obviously, these and other stories of domestic and sexual violence differ from what we’ve seen in the LA Times stories and Oxygen show.

Still, as we discussed yesterday, it’s distressing to see how many abusers seem to get away with their misdeeds while victims pay the ultimate price. Are we seeing this again now? While David Marlon dismisses his now ex-wife’s call to the police as a desperate act of a relapsed drug addict, he’s running for Las Vegas City Council as a “trusted health care leader”. And while Ruben Kihuen dismisses the women he harassed with a “non-apology apology”, he’s running for Las Vegas City Council while still refusing to take no for an answer.

Photo by Andrew Davey

It’s been said that municipal government is the most potent and the most intimate branch of government. It’s the branch of government we interact with the most in our day-to-day lives, from the roads we drive on to the parks we walk through. We’ll see how Marlon and Kihuen handle themselves on the campaign trail, and we’ll see how Las Vegas voters themselves decide whether they’re ready to declare #TimesUp on condoning abuse and coddling abusers.

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