Ethics Commission balks at Loux’s payment proposal
The Nevada Ethics Commission voted 3-2 Thursday to not accept a proposal by the former head of the state Agency for Nuclear Projects to pay back more than $29,000 in salary in exchange for dropping an ethics complaint filed against him.
The decision to not take the payment from Bob Loux means the Ethics Commission will proceed with a March 12 evidentiary hearing at which many current and former state officials, including former Gov. Kenny Guinn, have been subpoenaed to attend.
Acting Ethics Commissioner Bob Weise said he couldn’t accept the payment from Loux “because there is no punishment here. … All he would be doing is giving back money that he should not have received in the first place.”
Commission members said they’d consider taking the payment if Loux would admit to a “willful” violation of ethics law. But an attorney for Loux refused the offer, saying that could adversely affect Loux if criminal charges eventually were brought against him.
His attorneys also argued that while Guinn was serving as governor he essentially delegated to Loux the authority to set his agency’s salaries.
Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, filed the ethics complaint against Loux following a September legislative hearing where Loux admitted to taking the salary of an employee who had retired and dividing it up among his staff and himself.
Gov. Jim Gibbons released results of an audit that showed Loux and his staff for at least three years allegedly received as much as a third more than their approved salaries.
According to the Gibbons administration, Loux made a $151,442 salary last year when he was entitled to $114,088. Governors of Nevada earn $141,000 a year.
Loux resigned and was recently replaced by Bruce Breslow as head of the Agency for Nuclear Projects. Loux spent 23 years running the office and working to block federal plans for building a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.