Assembly Speaker Perkins won’t retire early, despite complaint | NevadaAppeal.com

Assembly Speaker Perkins won’t retire early, despite complaint

Associated Press

Despite a federal agency’s repeated statements that his deputy police chief job violates a federal conflict-of-interest law, Nevada Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins says he won’t retire early from the Henderson Police Department.

Perkins, 43, said he had pondered an early retirement but decided he would have been doing it for political reasons and not because he wanted to leave his job.

“It’s the job I love, and I don’t think I need to retire,” said Perkins, D-Henderson, who is eyeing a run for governor in 2006.

Perkins is under investigation by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel on a complaint that he violates the federal Hatch Act by serving in the Legislature.

The Hatch Act prohibits participation in partisan political activity by federal and some state and local government employees who are paid with or oversee federal funds.

Perkins said he believes he ultimately will be cleared. He added the police department has structured his duties so he doesn’t deal directly with federal funds.

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But the special counsel’s office stated in a legal brief earlier this year that Perkins oversees some officers and programs that get federal grants, therefore violating the law.

If found guilty of violating the Hatch Act, Perkins could be forced to leave his city job or the city could lose federal funds equal to two years of Perkins’ salary. Perkins is paid more than $130,000 a year by the police department.

Beyond the Hatch Act investigation, Perkins said he was feeling political pressure to retire early because of the focus on part-time legislators who also work as full-time public employees.

In previous legislative sessions, Perkins had worked on off-hours for the police department, drawing some criticism. He won’t do that this legislative session, and instead will use up his vacation time and take a leave of absence.