Panel OKs paying salaries for pair of stimulus officials

CARSON CITY -- The Legislature's Interim Finance Committee agreed Thursday to spend more than $238,000 in state funds to cover the salaries of two federal stimulus fund coordinators: one in the governor's office and one in the state controller's office.

Before the vote, state Budget Director Andrew Clinger said the duties performed by Charles Harvey, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act director in Gov. Jim Gibbons' office, and Mary Keating, the coordinator in Controller Kim Wallin's office, "sometimes overlap."

But Wallin told the committee that Keating performs duties that Harvey doesn't and provides a check and balance to his work.

Both make sure state agencies spend stimulus funds in accordance with federal laws.

The controller also said that Keating has found mistakes in the reports state agencies that receive stimulus funds provide the federal government.

After the meeting, Gibbons said Harvey has agreed to remain his stimulus director. The governor had said Wednesday that Harvey was leaving the job in July to become executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services.

Because Gibbons has six months left on his term and this position is appointed by the governor, Harvey might not have the job for very long.

The state is scheduled to receive $2.3 billion in federal stimulus funds, and Wallin said a need will exist to review how funds are spent for at least two more years.

Last year, Democrats objected to Republican Gibbons hiring a stimulus director, and they contended the job of reviewing spending by the state rested with Democrat Wallin. Gibbons issued an executive order to hire Harvey.

Legislators on Thursday offered no criticism of the governor's decision.

"The two positions have done what is necessary to assure compliance with ARRA funding," said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas.

Harvey's office will receive $112,998 in state funds to cover part of his salary and office expenses and those of two assistants. The office receives $222,000 from other sources to cover the remainder .

Wallin will receive $125,980 to pay for Keating's salary and office expenses.

Keating is a former state budget officer whom Gibbons accused of leaking information to the news media that he was using a state phone to send text messages to Kathy Karrasch, a Reno woman that his wife, Dawn Gibbons, said was having an affair .

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.