Augustine has no place in office |

Augustine has no place in office

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine should resign immediately.

In admitting this week to ethical violations for directing members of her staff to work on her 2002 re-election campaign, Augustine brought to a rapid end what could have been a nine-hour hearing.

Soon after, however, Augustine repeated her intention to remain in office, even as impeachment proceedings are prepared for the 2005 Legislature. There’s no need to drag out this sad episode for five more months.

Perhaps she won’t become the first constitutional officer to be impeached in the history of Nevada. But the most likely way to avoid such infamy would be to resign the post and allow Gov. Kenny Guinn to appoint someone else.

Preserve a bit of dignity for the office, please, and perhaps some for herself.

Do not be fooled by the Ethics Commission’s 3-2 vote to fine Augustine $15,000 for her transgressions. One commissioner who voted no wanted the fine to be higher. The other wanted to go ahead with the hearing so the public could hear all the details.

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As it was, the public learned enough to know Augustine directed her former executive secretary to write stump speeches, prepare campaign materials and organize fund-raisers on behalf of her boss. Others were prepared to testify to similar offenses.

Thousands of tax dollars were spent by Augustine to get herself re-elected. It’s shameful; it may also be criminal.

Republican leaders, who so far have said publicly they aren’t pushing Augustine to resign, should be privately urging her to do so.

After the Ethics Commission decision, Augustine apologized to the residents of Nevada and said she takes full responsibility for the violations. In our opinion, that should include removing herself from the office before she is fired.