Seven chiefs of staff subpoenaed to Loux ethics hearing | NevadaAppeal.com

Seven chiefs of staff subpoenaed to Loux ethics hearing

To clear up the question of whether Bob Loux was ever authorized to take a higher salary than lawmakers approved for the Nuclear Projects director, the Ethics Commission has subpoenaed every chief of staff who served either Gov. Kenny Guinn or Gov. Jim Gibbons.

They will appear to give testimony at the March 12 hearing into whether Loux unethically raised his own salary without authorization.

During the Guinn Administration, lawmakers agreed to convert all positions in the governor’s office from unclassified to non-classified. That allows the governor to set salaries in his own office as long as he stays within budget. If one of those chiefs of staff authorized it, Loux would have been within his rights to increase his annual pay.

Gibbons has had two chiefs of staff, Mike Dayton and Josh Hicks. In his two terms, Guinn had five: Pete Ernaut, Scott Scherer, Marybel Batjer, Mike Hillerby and Keith Munro.

Ethics Commission Director Patty Cafferata said all have been called to attend the hearing, as has Guinn. She said it is up to Loux and his legal team to decide whether they want to subpoena Gibbons as well.

“We just wanted any chief of staff so there was no question about what the governor’s position was,” she said.

Over a period of at least three years, Loux paid himself and six others in his office nearly $200,000 more than legislatively authorized. Loux received $67,585 of that. When the overpayments were discovered, Budget Director Andrew Clinger rolled the salaries back. In addition, he and the governor’s office have filed paperwork with the controller’s office to dock the pay of those employees until the state is paid back.

No hearings have yet been scheduled on the payback.

Loux has since been replaced by Bruce Breslow.

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, filed the ethics complaint.

Loux and his attorneys have said he never intentionally or unethically used his position to raise his or other salaries in his office.

“While he takes full responsibility for mistakes that may have been made and for errors in judgment, the allegations of improper or unethical conduct are faulty at their original premise,” said the response to the Ethics Commission complaint by attorneys Judy Sheldrew and Tom Perkins.

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.