Governor's top aide goes home on weekends at state expense

Mike Dayton, chief of staff to Gov. Jim Gibbons, Tuesday defended billing the state to fly home to Las Vegas most weekends.

Dayton said Gibbons has assigned him to the Las Vegas office as his primary duty station to raise the visibility of the governor's office in the south. He said the reason he is in Carson City most of the time right now is because the Legislature is in session.

"After session, I will be pretty much working in Las Vegas," he said.

Records of his travel claims for January and February show Dayton typically flying from Las Vegas to Reno Monday mornings and from Reno to Las Vegas Friday afternoon or evening. Those records show four round trips in January and one in February for about $117 apiece billed to the state.

"We checked this through the Department of Administration," he said. "I said during the legislative session, would I be eligible to come up here and work? They said yes."

Director of Administration Andrew Clinger confirmed that, because Dayton's duty station is Las Vegas, the payments are appropriate under state law and regulation. Clinger said technically, Dayton could also claim meals and lodging costs and that he isn't.

Dayton compared it to other state officials including the Director of Corrections and the head of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, who frequently fly to Carson City for meetings or to testify during the Legislature.

"It's no different from any of the other directors based in Las Vegas," he said. "I'm not going home on weekends; I'm returning from work in Carson City."

The one difference, he said, is that he doesn't claim per diem expenses, only the cost of the airline flights.

He said when Gibbons decided to hire him, he wanted a more visible presence for the governor's office in Southern Nevada.

"Seventy percent of the population is down there and a large number of state agencies. And with modern communications, e-mails and conference calls, I can conduct business from down there."

He said that by the end of the legislative session, he expects to be spending much more time in Las Vegas than Carson City.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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