Scott Sonner
Associated Press Writer

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July 22, 2010
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Nevada Gov. Gibbons' divorce becomes official

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Nevada's first family is officially no more.

A family court judge in Reno signed the divorce decree Wednesday for Gov. Jim Gibbons and his now ex-wife, Dawn.

Gibbons becomes the first sitting governor to get divorced in Nevada's history. The former congressman won't be returning to the governor's mansion next year because he lost the Republican primary last month to former federal judge Brian Sandoval - another first for an incumbent governor.

The couple reached a tentative divorce settlement in December but had continued to argue about a number of details.

Judge Frances Doherty told the couple she thinks they and their lawyers can work out any outstanding issues regarding the division of political memorabilia, including some items signed by President Ronald Reagan.

A tearful Dawn Gibbons declined comment as she left the courtroom, but her lawyer, Cal Dunlap told The Associated Press, "She's officially divorced."

The governor told reporters, "Nobody is happy about today."

"The only thing that pleases me is I can stop paying attorney fees," he said.

Jim Gibbons, 65, filed for divorce in May 2008, citing incompatibility with his wife. In one court document, he compared her to an "enraged ferret in a phone booth."

Dawn Gibbons, 55, accused her husband of having affairs with a former Playboy model and the estranged wife of a Reno doctor - allegations he denied.

The settlement orders the governor to pay alimony totaling 25 percent of his gross income for the next five years. That's about $4,000 a month through the end of this year, when his term as governor ends.

The couple sold their Reno home and agreed to sell 40 acres in scenic Lamoille in Elko County.

The only unresolved matters involve whether two gun safes were purchased privately or by Gibbons' congressional campaign committee, and the political memorabilia, including correspondence signed by Reagan and 10 White House Christmas cards and accompanying prints - four from the Clinton administration and six from the Bush administrations.

The governor said he'd already given away the Christmas cards to individuals who gave big contributions to his campaign. The judge directed him to provide Dawn Gibbons with the names of those donors.

Dawn Gibbons described the prints of the White House Christmas scenes as "framed paintings" worth a total of $40,000 to $60,000.

"I would love to have my half of those," she said.

But the governor said "there are no paintings."

"They are just posters - lithographs. They are not thousands and thousands of dollars," he said, adding that all of his political memorabilia was in storage.

"She can have what's in the warehouse," he told the judge.

Dixie Grossman, a lawyer representing the governor, said at the opening of the 30-minute hearing in Washoe County Family Court that they hoped to "resolve this today and move on and not continue to waste money on relatively diminuous claims."

"We suggest she just keep the Ronald Reagan memorabilia and call it a day," Grossman said.

The judge agreed she could sign the divorce decree in anticipation the two sides would work out the last details in accordance with her order dictating that all political memorabilia be sold and the proceeds divided.

"If we are down to this last issue, I think we can all feel pretty good about what you have done here," Doherty said.

"None of us really want to be back in court," she said. "It was a hard case and you did it under tremendous pressure. ... I wish you both the best. Good luck."


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 22, 2010 01:29PM Published Jul 22, 2010 01:28PM Copyright 2010 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.