Closing the books on their 2013 office spending, Nevada’s federal lawmakers are boasting they’re so tight with taxpayer money that their shoes are squeaking.
Republican Rep. Mark Amodei announced last week that he will return about $104,000 to the U.S. Treasury in unspent office funds. That’s an 8 percent giveback from the roughly $1.3 million each lawmaker is given for staff salaries, travel, supplies and equipment.
Amodei pointed out the savings came even after his allocation was cut $167,080 because of the automatic sequester on 2013 spending. In 2012, he reminded, he gave back $172,143.50
“In the face of a $17.3 trillion federal debt, I think it is a sign of basic respect to Nevadans and Americans to run a fiscally conservative office while offering the greatest possible service to my constituents at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers,” Amodei said in a statement.
Not to be outdone, other House members said they are finalizing their accounts and also expect to return money to the Treasury for deficit reduction.
Democrat Rep. Steven Horsford projects a give-back of $70,000 in unspent office funds, a spokesman said.
Democrat Rep. Dina Titus is in the midst of upgrading old computers she inherited from a former lawmaker, but still expects to have $30,000 left over for Uncle Sam, an aide said.
Republican Rep. Joe Heck’s office said it was still reconciling 2013 bills and could not estimate its bottom line. But, his spokesman said, “we will be returning a portion of our (office allowance).”
— Steve Tetreault
MILLER SEEKS TRANSPARENCY
Secretary of State Ross Miller has joined a national organization to further advance campaign finance transparency laws throughout the country.
Nevada is now a member of the States’ Unified Network Center, which has as its goal the promotion of collaborative enforcement among disclosure officers nationwide.
Members of the “SUN” Center are state and municipal campaign oversight officials who will work together to promote transparency in campaign finance by sharing ideas, strategies, and legislation. “As Nevada’s chief elections officer, I have long been a proponent of campaign finance transparency and making that information easily accessible to the public,” Miller said.
“Our AURORA campaign finance disclosure system is a great advancement and a popular tool for Nevadans to find out which individuals or organizations are funding which campaigns,” he said. “By joining the SUN Center, Nevada is furthering its commitment to campaign finance disclosure and enforcement.”
Miller is running for state attorney general.
The center displays proposed and existing legislation organized by issue area, current news, and other information concerning campaign finance. It also plans to host a database of organizations that make contributions in multiple states, allowing campaign disclosure enforcement entities to exchange information, identify patterns, review enforcement histories, and coordinate enforcement efforts.
The group is nonpartisan and consists of 12 states and cities, including New York state and city, California, Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington and Iowa. The group is informal, but confers regularly to bring best practices and coordination to campaign disclosure efforts in individual states and at the national level.
The SUN Center was launched in October 2013. It can be viewed online at fppc.ca.gov/suncenter.
— Sean Whaley
CHARGES AGAINST JUDGE DROPPED
Misdemeanor vehicular homicide charges were dropped Thursday against Douglas County District Judge Michael Gibbons after he reached a civil settlement with the daughter of the 61-year-old bicyclist who died in a collision with Gibbons’ vehicle in August.
Gibbons, 57, who filed for re-election Monday, is the brother of Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Gibbons.
His vehicle and a bike driven by Joseph Longo collided in a rural intersection outside Gardnerville. Longo was not wearing a helmet. A state law requires vehicles to stay at least 3 feet from bicycles. The incident was investigated by the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Moapa Valley Township Justice of the Peace Larry Waite dismissed the charges after lawyers for the affected parties announced they had reached a settlement, according to the Record-Courier in Gardnerville. A hearing on the incident had been scheduled for next week.
Since the charge was a misdemeanor, Gibbons likely only would have been assigned to do community service work if he had been convicted.
— Ed Vogel
HORNE MOVE NOT THE FIRST
Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, drew a lot of attention Wednesday when he filed his candidacy to face Clark County District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth.
But what Horne did is actually par for the course for majority leaders of the Assembly. Remember Assembly Majority Leader Gene Porter, D-Las Vegas? After two terms as majority leader, Porter was appointed in 1995 by Gov. Bob Miller to serve as a district judge. He later won the seat himself and served until 2003.
In talking with a reporter, Horne said he will mark his 10th year as a lawyer in October. In his younger years, he worked as a flight attendant. A weightlifter, Horne remembered his boss on the airline sometimes questioned his weight “even though I had 4 percent body fat.” Muscles weigh a lot more than flab.
— Ed Vogel
JUST TO MAKE SURE
John Entsminger may well become the first incoming leader of the Las Vegas Valley Water District to end up getting two separate unanimous votes from Clark County commissioners instead of one.
He was hired with a vote Tuesday to replace outgoing water czar Pat Mulroy. Commissioners, acting as the water district board, will redo that vote at the Jan. 21 meeting. That’s out of an abundance of caution in case the agenda posting for Tuesday’s meeting ran afoul of the Nevada open meeting law.
That question came up before Tuesday’s vote. The issue: If Friday is legally considered a working day under the open meeting law. The water district is closed Fridays, except for customer emergencies.
The law requires meeting agendas to be posted three working days in advance. The Friday question came up due to the New Year’s Day holiday arriving right after the agenda posted.
Commissioners went ahead and voted after getting the green light from legal counsel.
By Thursday, Entsminger sent out a letter to water district board President Mary Beth Scow, saying Sisolak had identified a “valid concern.”
“Given these circumstances and to cure any potential violations, it is our intention to repost the entire agenda for a public meeting on January 21, 2014,” Entsminger wrote, adding that the posting policy will change in the future.
That’s good enough for Sisolak, who stressed the outcome won’t change.
“I think this is a very wise decision,” Sisolak said, adding that it’s best to err on the side of transparency when the legal waters are murky.
— Ben Botkin
EARLY SANDOVAL ENDORSEMENT
It seems a bit early for endorsements, but they’re starting to trickle in for 2014 races.
On Friday, the Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada endorsed Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval for re-election. The governor doesn’t have any serious competition yet and so the endorsement might have been a no-brainer.
Rusty McAllister, president of the union that has 17 locals across the state, praised Sandoval for supporting firefighting efforts, including during the devastating Carpenter 1 Fire in the Spring Mountains.
“He has earned our respect and our vote,” McAllister said.
The union didn’t endorse any gubernatorial candidate during the 2010 race between Sandoval and Rory Reid, a Democrat.
— Laura Myers
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901. Follow him on Twitter at @edison vogel. Contact reporter Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 702-387-2904. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1. Contact reporter Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702 387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.