Controller hires stimulus officer involved in lawsuit with governor |

Controller hires stimulus officer involved in lawsuit with governor

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau

Controller Kim Wallin has hired Mary Heating as her American Recovery and Reinvestment Act reporting and accountability officer.

Her prime function in that post is to ensure the state accurately reports to the federal government how its $2.2 billion in stimulus money is used.

Keating is the former chief fiscal officer for the Department of Administrat-ion who is suing Gov. Jim Gibbons over her removal from that position.

One of her tasks in that position was to monitor the governor’s office’s expenses. According to her lawyer, Cal Dunlap, Keating was forced out of that position because Gibbons believed she leaked information to the press about his using his state cell phone to send more than 860 personal text messages to a woman he was seeing.

The lawsuit charges Keating’s career and reputation were damaged by her removal and that firing chills the rights of state workers to bring matters of “public concern” to the public’s attention.

After word of the text messages got out, Gibbons apologized for using a state phone and reimbursed the state $130 for those messages.

Keating was moved from the Department of Administration to a similar position in the Department of Health and Human Services, a position she left to join the controller’s office effective Monday.

In addition to her extensive service with the state – 26 years – Wallin said Keating has played a major role in ARRA grant reporting for HHS, which has received more stimulus money than any other agency outside of Employment Security.

Her appointment is also the latest move in an ongoing battle between the governor’s office, controller and legislature over control of the stimulus money. The governor has thus far won that battle, asserting sole control over the stimulus grants as they come in, with authority to direct and spend the money without approval by either lawmakers or the controller.

The governor’s office issued the following statement on the appointment Monday: “My office is focused on disbursing stimulus funds to create jobs, retain jobs and stimulate Nevada’s economy. I also insist on an open and transparent process so taxpayers know where their money is going.”

Spokesman Dan Burns said the governor’s office will follow all reporting requirements including reporting to the controller’s office.