Governor faces ethics complaint, possible huge fine

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:57 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -During the recent campaign, it was nigh on impossible to miss the point Republican Joe Lombaro was running for governor as the sitting sheriff of Clark County.

TV ads and campaign material routinely depicted Lombardo in uniform, wearing badge, gun and all the ecoutrements of the office.

It was powerful visual messaging and, it could be argued, one which connected with voters and contributed to his victory. We’re about to witness a debate and decision whether it also violated state law. Next week the state Ethics Commission will hold a hearing on a recommendation for a summary judgement that Lombardo did just that.

The case is laid out in a charging document stretching more than 400 pages, listing 34 separate violations each of two state ethics laws. The potential fines for those violations add up to more than $1.6 million dollars.

“For someone who has had an entire career in law enforcement and is supposed to respect law. uphold the law, policies and praactices this is at least an embarrassment, a very serious embarrassment,” said longtime Nevada political observer Fred Lokken of Truckee Meadows Community College.

The document’s legal analysis cites the fact the governor was well aware of the issue, even that it violated his department’s own policies and proceded anyway as evidence his actions were serious and willful.

“They had to know that they were violating both the Nevada Revised Statutes and the policies in place for the sheriff’s department in Clark County,” said Lokken.. i”Im looking for an explanation of how they wouldn’t have realized they were doing that.”

In a legal response attorneys for the governor dismissed the alleged violations as “inconsequential” and the commission’s proposed action--the record fine, a censure and continued monitoring as equivalent to “using a sledgehammer to swat a fly.”

Initial reaction has followed predictable partisan lines. the commission meets to consider the case next week. The eventual political verdict will be the voting public’s decision.