Augustine puts herself in tight corner

We don't know yet what violations Controller Kathy Augustine will admit, and an impeachment hearing would be a first in the history of Nevada. As historian Guy Rocha noted, it puts Augustine and the Legislature in "uncharted territory."

To demand her resignation, as some have done, or suggest impeachment is a sure thing would be premature. She has a right to explain her actions and to defend herself in a hearing.

Unfortunately for Augustine, that's about as good as it gets.

Because she has stated a couple of times that she has no intention of resigning, she must believe her transgressions don't rise to the level of removal from office.

But if she gets into an impeachment hearing in the political arena of the Legislature to make that argument, she will be asking her fellow Republicans to cast a vote defending her. That's a pretty awkward spot, or a pretty big favor, no matter how you look at it.

The Attorney General's Office headed by Republican Brian Sandoval conducted the investigation that so far has brought a formal complaint to the Ethics Commission. It's not yet known whether the attorney general will file a felony complaint.

Sandoval knows it's his duty to prosecute the law, regardless of political affiliation. That's his job. He's also savvy enough to realize the worst thing he could do to his own political career would be to try to excuse a violation by a high-level politician. Legislators will use the same logic.

Augustine may have plenty of room to maneuver legally, but she's in a very tight corner politically.

While impeachment may be uncharted territory for Nevada, it isn't for a Nevadan. Harry Claiborne, who died earlier this year, argued his innocence all the way to his impeachment by Congress as a federal judge. No matter what he believed, he never had the votes.


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