Augustine ‘Ready to fight’ impeachment
Republican Controller Kathy Augustine says she’s “ready to fight” impeachment for using state employees and equipment for her 2002 campaign because her conduct doesn’t warrant removal from office.
In her first detailed public comment, Augustine said in a letter to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she “should have known” staffers who volunteered to help on her campaign were doing so on state time – but she had no “actual knowledge that any ethics rule or law was being breached.”
“The acts to which I have admitted have nothing to do with my accomplishments in office,” Augustine said. “I will not stand silently and have my integrity dragged through the mud. I’m ready to fight.”
“I want everyone to know that even my accusers admit that I told them over and over again, ‘Don’t do this on state time.’ The record is clear on that point.”
Augustine said after her re-election she reprimanded a staffer because she lied about filing a year’s worth of financial statements – and that person became “a disgruntled employee with an ax to grind” who became her primary accuser.
“Would someone who thought they had done something wrong reprimand anyone who could become a witness against them?” she said. “Persons involved in a nefarious plot do not make their scheme public or intentionally create witnesses against themselves.”
Augustine said she cooperated with investigators and agreed to pay a record $15,000 fine because “I value ethics in government, and when these things occurred on my watch, I took responsibility. I did not submit any excuses.”
Gov. Kenny Guinn has said he’ll call a special legislative session for the impeachment proceedings in mid-November unless Augustine resigns first. Nevada lawmakers’ regular session starts Feb. 7, and pre-session hearings start Jan. 19.
Augustine was fined by the state Ethics Commission on Sept. 22 after she signed a statement admitting to three willful violations of ethics laws. Among other things, she admitted causing her former executive assistant to do re-election work on state time.
Under Nevada law, when a constitutional officer admits willful violations of the law, the case automatically goes to the Legislature for impeachment proceedings. No constitutional officer has been impeached in the state’s 140-year history.
Augustine has rebuffed requests by Guinn, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., and other top politicians that she quit now to avoid further embarrassment and spare taxpayers the cost of a special session.
Augustine also has been accused by a former employee of sexual harassment, but that’s a separate matter now pending in a federal court.