Guinn says embattled controller to stay on job

CARSON CITY - Despite being charged with an ethics violation that could get her thrown out of office, state Controller Kathy Augustine will be at work every day, Gov. Kenny Guinn says.

Guinn, who spoke with Augustine on last week about the allegations that she had employees work on her campaign, said he was concerned that the state's accounting system continue to function during this "tough situation."

"We had a good conversation," Guinn said. "She has to go through a process, but also we have a process we have to follow through in state government and she was very positive toward that and very cooperative and is coming to work every day."

Guinn said he knows the allegations are a distraction for Augustine but said he wanted to make sure "we're doing the state's business because it's an important area for us in terms of paying our bills and getting our receipts in the right place."

Augustine has refused to comment since the state attorney general's office filed a complaint Wednesday with the Ethics Commission.

The complaint alleges that she used her office staff for campaign work during office hours in the last election. She has referred questions to her lawyer, John Arrascada of Reno.

The attorney general's office said Augustine intends to stipulate to a willful violation of the state's ethics code.

If the Ethics Commission finds a willful violation, it must turn the case over to the Legislature for an impeachment procedure.

The proceedings could occur when the 2005 Legislature convenes in February, or in a special session.

Guinn, asked about the possibility of a special session - which he would have to call - said, "I think you would have to see the timing on everything."

The governor added that the Ethics Commission has a backlog of cases and will appear before the state Board of Examiners today to ask for $101,000 in an emergency appropriation to hire help to get caught up.


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