Nevada Democrats Push Ethics Reform Measures

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Measures to improve ethics in government and to provide more information about Nevada politicians' contributors are needed to overcome distrust caused by "indictments, convictions and scandals," Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley said Monday.

Buckley, D-Las Vegas, joined with other Assembly Democrats in
discussing several bills dealing with ethics and full disclosure to be considered by state lawmakers this session. That includes AB80, up for a hearing Tuesday, requiring more disclosure by limited liability corporations, or LLCs, that lobby and contribute to campaigns.

"Nobody really knows who's behind them," Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, said of the LLCs. "The public has a right to know who they are."

Under the bill, set for a hearing in Assembly Elections, Procedures and Ethics, members of LLCs would have to disclose their names to the secretary of state, and reports of any campaign contributions or spending would have to be filed.

The same committee plans a Thursday hearing on AJR1, a "three strikes and you're out" measure designed to strengthen ethics-in-government rules. Under the plan, elected officials would have to give up their posts if they violate three or more ethics rules.

Also on the panel's agenda is AB79, which prohibits an official or public employee from doing political campaign work on government
time. That bill was prompted by the impeachment of former state Controller Kathy Augustine.

"When bad things happen it reflects on all of us," said Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, D-Las Vegas, chief sponsor of AB79 and chairwoman of the elections committee.

Other ethics-in-government plans now in draft form include one to require reports from lobbyists on their expenses incurred in lobbying executive-branch officials. Currently, such reports at the state level are limited to the advocates' lobbying of legislators.

Also being drafted is a plan to require ethics training for lawmakers and lobbyists.

Some of the proposals were approved in 2005 in the Democrat-controlled Assembly but failed in the Republican-run Senate. Koivisto has said she can't understand why the legislation keeps stalling and complained of a "good ol' boys network."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, has insisted ethics is not a partisan issue, and acknowledged some changes are necessary. But Raggio has resisted change in the past, saying some ethics reform plans amounted to "political posturing" and were unnecessary.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)