Former Carson City Culture & Tourism Authority leader fined $5,000 for ethics violations
Joel Dunn, former executive director of the Carson City Culture & Tourism Authority, is paying a $5,000 fine for ethics violations committed while he was head of the bureau.
Dunn appeared Wednesday before the Nevada Commission on Ethics, which approved a stipulated agreement requiring him to pay the fine.
The violations stem from two instances in which Dunn did not make a full disclosure to the CTA board during his tenure.
The first was at a July 10, 2017 meeting of the CTA board in which it updated a 2010 policy manual to mirror a 2013 Carson City manual plus one new provision.
That provision would allow employees who join the CTA directly from employment with the city to retain the years of service with the city for benefit purposes.
Dunn, who retired from the CTA three months later, did not disclose to the board that he was a former city employee and while his employment history may have been known to members of the board, Nevada law requires full disclosure of a conflict for the benefit of the board and public.
“During the meeting at which the board adopted the policies, Dunn failed to publicly disclose that the Carson City service carryover provision would apply to him and allow him to receive a significant payout of accrued sick leave and a retiree medical subsidy for himself and his spouse, including a $24,349.70 payout for accrued sick leave and a medical subsidy worth approximately $1,000 per month for himself and his spouse,” Yvonne Nevarez-Goodson, executive director, Nevada Ethics Commission, told the commission panel. “Before the new policy, Dunn would not have been eligible for any payout or accrued sick leave nor would he have received any medical subsidy for himself or his spouse.”
Dunn did not speak at the meeting, but afterward he confirmed he did receive the sick leave payout and health insurance subsidy. Any payout to Dunn came out of the CTA budget, funded by the room tax and completely separate from the city’s budget.
“Throughout my career with the CTA I never worked without the direction of my board or representation by legal counsel on all policies and contracts,” he said after the meeting.
The District Attorney’s Office provides counsel for the CTA and it is up to officials to seek legal advice on potential conflicts of interest. Jason Woodbury, DA, could not comment on whether Dunn sought legal counsel because of client legal privilege, but if Dunn had received bad advice he could have used that as a defense before the ethics commission.
Woodbury said he would be conferring with David Peterson, the current executive director of the CTA, and Michael Jones, the CTA board chair, on the policy, which is still in place. It is still to be determined if Dunn would lose the subsidy if the policy is rescinded, Woodbury said.
The second violation occurred at an Oct. 9, 2017 meeting when the CTA board approved a $131,040 contract with NV Consulting to bridge the gap between Dunn’s retirement and the hiring of a new executive director.
Dunn did not disclose that he and his daughter were managing members of NV Consulting.
Later, the DA’s office told the CTA to void the contract and put it out to bid. A request for proposals was issued, two bids were received, and the board again awarded NV Consulting the contract.