Bill proposed to prevent elected officials from using staff on own campaigns

Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, introduced legislation Thursday to bar Nevada's elected officials from using state staff to do their campaign work.

SB162 was referred to the Legislative Operations and Elections Committee for study.

"It's the common sense in ethics bill," Horsford said.

He said the problem was pointed out during the impeachment trial of Controller Kathy Augustine. She was impeached by the Assembly on three counts, including making state employees in her office do her campaign finance reports and other campaign projects.

But the legal opinion given to lawmakers during that trial indicated that wasn't clearly forbidden by Nevada law and, therefore, Augustine wasn't in violation.

Many state employees - uniformly asking their names not be used - said the ruling opened the door for elected officials throughout government to put staff to work on their campaigns whether they like it or not.

"Clearly that was what was abused and what the state controller admitted to," said Horsford. "We found in her proceedings there was a gray area in the law and that's what this seeks to close."

SB162 would prohibit public officers or employees from using governmental time, property or equipment on political campaigns or the preparation of financial disclosure and other similar statements required of candidates.

He said it would also apply to members of the Legislature.

The law exempts "incidental" uses of state time and property if the value is nominal and the use doesn't create the appearance of impropriety.

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or at 687-8750.


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