Nevada ethics panel clears Assemblywoman Spiegel in HOA dispute

CARSON CITY — A complaint filed against a Henderson assemblywoman over her involvement in a homeowners association legal dispute has been dismissed by a panel of the state Ethics Commission.

Las Vegas attorneys involved in a lawsuit against several hundred homeowners associations filed the complaint against Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, a Democrat, in February.

They alleged that she improperly used her position to influence a neutral arbitrator in the legal dispute over what fees and assessments can be collected from liens placed by the associations on homes when they go through the foreclosure process.

The complaint stemmed from a letter Spiegel sent to arbitrator Leonard Gang on Feb. 12 that the attorneys said was an effort to get him to rule in favor of the homeowners associations in the dispute.

Spiegel wrote the letter on Assembly District 20 stationary, saying it was an effort to clarify the intent of a measure she sponsored in the 2009 Legislature.

Spiegel is a member of the board of directors of the Green Valley Ranch Community Association, a relationship she acknowledged in her letter to Gang. The association is one of those involved in the dispute. A two-member panel of the commission found no credible evidence to pursue the matter.

“Despite that she and her husband live in a home in one of the numerous common-interest communities named as a respondent in the arbitration, she acted on her duty as an elected representative of her district to clarify the intended application of the legislative measure,” the panel said. “She did not confer with her HOA Board, the attorneys for the respondents in the arbitration or any other person related to her private interests.”

There was no evidence that by writing the letter on her legislative stationery, that Spiegel “secured any unwarranted advantage for herself or granted any unwarranted advantage to her HOA in violation (of state law),” the panel said.