'3 strikes' rule for politicians introduced

Assembly Democrats on Friday introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove politicians from office for three ethical violations.

Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said AJR1 is part of the ethics reform package she and others in the party promised voters during the 2006 campaign season.

The bill would amend the Nevada Constitution to provide that any public officer who commits three or more serious ethical violations while holding a given office forfeits that office.

She said anyone removed under that provision would have the right to appeal to the courts to review the case.

Existing law provides that the governor and other constitutional officers, district and supreme court judges can be impeached for misdemeanors or malfeasance in office. Statutes provide for the removal of other elected officers in the state and each house of the Legislature has the power to judge its own membership.

But if AJR1 is placed in the constitution, the removal from office would not require an impeachment or other statutory process. It would be automatic for all public officers including legislators.

The proposed amendment leaves it up to the Commission on Judicial Ethics for judges and to the state's Commission on Ethics for all other public officers to determine whether the official has committed a violation that qualifies as serious enough to count toward removal from office. It defines an ethical violation as "an act or omission of a serious nature, including but not limited to felonies, that indicate the officer knowingly or willfully chose to behave in a manner inconsistent with the fact that a public office is a public trust to be held for the sole benefit of the people."

The introduction of AJR1 follows earlier bills including AB79 that would prohibit public officers or employees from using any government time, property or equipment for political campaigning or the preparation of campaign finance or disclosure reports.

In addition, the Assembly is considering AB80, which would require limited liability companies that engage in political activities to file reports with the secretary of state - including listing the names of all members - just as political parties and political-action committees do now.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


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