New effort to eliminate Nevada controller’s office
November 16, 2004
As Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine fights removal from office, there’s a renewed effort in the Legislature to abolish her statewide elective post.
Even before Augustine was disciplined by the state Ethics Commission, an unidentified legislator had asked for a bill draft to combine the controller and the treasurer’s office.
There have been periodic attempts since 1995 to eliminate the office and switch the duties to the treasurer. But the bill never made it out of committee.
Assemblyman Bob Seale, R-Henderson, former state treasurer, said he would have introduced a bill this session to combine the offices if someone else hadn’t beat him to it. He said he will back the anonymous bill.
On June 25, an unnamed lawmaker requested the bill to combine the offices. Augustine on June 30 revealed that she was under investigation by the attorney general’s office. On Sept. 22, she agreed to pay a $15,000 fine, admitting she should have known that her staff was working on campaign materials.
Augustine says she voted against combining the offices in 1997 when she was in the Senate, and she has opposed the efforts since. She said the office serves as one of state government’s checks and balances.
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No one official should control all of the financial dealings of the state, she said Monday, adding that the state’s check writing needs to be separate from its investment activity.
“This takes away the vote of the people,” Augustine said. “The present system reduces the chances of mishandling.”
Seale called Augustine’s argument “specious,” noting that big corporations have only one financial officer.