Sandoval comments on controller’s conviction | NevadaAppeal.com

Sandoval comments on controller’s conviction

By BRENDAN RILEY

Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY – Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval, whose office spent more than a year investigating complaints about Controller Kathy Augustine, said Monday her Senate conviction on one count of using state equipment for campaign purposes shows the process worked.

“Due process and justice were served well and expeditiously,” Sandoval said in a statement. He added the Legislature was “the most appropriate forum for justice in this matter.”

The Assembly voted unanimously to impeach Augustine on three counts involving use of state employees and equipment in her 2002 re-election campaign, but the Senate tossed out two of the charges.

After the controller was convicted on the one count, senators issued a formal censure but imposed no other penalty. Augustine, who could have been thrown out of office, returned to work on Monday. She had been on leave with pay for three weeks from the $80,000-a-year job pending outcome of the trial.

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Earlier, the state Ethics Commission had hit Augustine with a record $15,000 fine for the three ethics law violations and then forwarded the matter to the Legislature for the impeachment proceedings – the first in state history.

“Our role – providing evidence and witness testimony – was validated by each of these bodies at each step of the process,” Sandoval stated.

Some senators criticized the attorney general’s office for not accepting Augustine’s offer in February or March to resign for personal reasons, but Sandoval spokesman Tom Sargent said Monday the offer was unacceptable because “that’s not justice.”

Gerald Gardner, chief deputy of special prosecutions and public integrity in Sandoval’s office, said during the trial that the controller wanted “to make this whole thing go away with no statement, no admission of what wrong was done, and we could not accept that, we simply could not accept that.”

There was no immediate comment from Sandoval on the suggestion from special prosecutor Dan Greco that criminal charges should have been filed against Augustine. Greco said a jury in criminal proceedings would have convicted Augustine on all three counts that were filed against her.

“Obviously, jurors, lay citizens, are going to be a much more receptive audience to these types of allegations than would be elected officials,” Greco said after Augustine’s trial ended on Saturday.