Tentative date set for Nevada controller’s impeachment hearing
Gov. Kenny Guinn hasn’t set a firm date for Nevada lawmakers to start the impeachment process for state Controller Kathy Augustine, but it could be Nov. 10 and the trial could extend into December.
Greg Bortolin, press secretary to Guinn, said Thursday the governor asked legislative leaders for a possible date for the special impeachment session – the first in state history – and “they indicated to us they will be ready on Nov. 10.”
“The governor is considering the 10th but another date is possible,” Bortolin said. “But it won’t be before the 10th.”
Assembly Majority Leader Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, said the governor talked about the first week after the election, possibly Nov. 8, and “we suggested Wednesday, Nov. 10th, as a better date.”
The later date would allow all the counties to canvass the votes of Tuesday’s general election. Returning incumbents and newly elected legislators will participate in the proceedings against Augustine.
Augustine is accused of using state workers to help in her 2002 re-election campaign on state time.
She has admitted she should have known the employees were doing the campaign work during state office hours, but claims she told them to do the work in their free time.
John Arrascada, attorney for Augustine, said he has not been notified of any starting date. He said the procedures have not yet been nailed down but that the Legislative Counsel Bureau has been working hard to set the ground rules.
Lawyer Dominic Gentile, also representing Augustine, said the impeachment proceedings should start after Thanksgiving. He said the winners of legislative races aren’t certified by the Nevada Supreme Court until late in November.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the procedure now being developed calls for the full Legislature to meet on the date set by the governor. “If nothing else occurs the governor intends to call us in the 10th,” he added.
Lorne Malkiewich, head of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the cost of the session will depend on how long it lasts – and a cost of $250,000 to $300,000 “is not unreasonable.”
Raggio said that if the Assembly delivers a bill of impeachment to the Senate, Augustine would be temporarily removed from her job.
Augustine then would be given at least 10 days’ notice that a Senate trial is about to begin.
That would put the trial up against the Thanksgiving holidays and probably would extend the trial into December.
Augustine agreed to pay a $15,000 fine to the state Ethics Commission in a negotiated settlement in which she admitted to three counts.
The complaint against Augustine was brought by Attorney General Brian Sandoval who will aid in the prosecution in the Legislature.