Loophole allows permanent slush funds


To the editor:

We were more than a little surprised to read the March 1 Review-Journal editorial criticizing Senate Bill 194. As public cynicism about political campaigns is at an all-time high, we believe it is important that our system of campaign finance be reformed to make it as transparent as possible. SB194 is just one part of our effort to achieve that goal.

At the present time, Nevada law requires that losing candidates — and legislators who otherwise leave office — dispose of any leftover moneys in their campaign accounts in one or more of several ways within several weeks. We think this is logical and represents good public policy.

Unfortunately, current law also includes a loophole that allows a former candidate or legislator to keep their campaign funds indefinitely. Here’s how it works: Term-limited Legislator A, who has a bundle of campaign cash on hand and wants to keep it, gets Legislator B to give him a $100 contribution. Legislator A is now a “candidate,” and can keep his campaign account alive indefinitely. Former Legislator A does not have to declare for some other office, and doesn’t have to actually become a candidate.

This, we submit, makes no sense. That’s why we have introduced SB194, which would require that such accounts be liquidated within two years unless Legislator A actually becomes a real candidate again by actually running for office.

We are not the first to discover this loophole. During the 2009 legislative session, SB210 was introduced to address this problem. The bill received unanimous support in committee, with former Sen. Bill Raggio weighing in as follows: “I was here when we passed the original law. ... Our intent was only for elected candidates to continue to use money during their term of office or during their next election. … You are saying today that this has been interpreted to mean that if you are not elected or termed out, then you can become a ‘candidate’ by receiving $100 ...? I am astonished this interpretation has been allowed to exist. ... We cannot allow a person to remain a perpetual candidate just because they say they are.”

SB210 eventually passed the Senate on a 21-0 vote, but, mysteriously, never even received a hearing in the Assembly.

Sen. Raggio was right. It was never the Legislature’s intent to allow former legislators to maintain political slush funds in perpetuity. SB194 is not aimed at any single former legislator, but is the kind of simple, common-sense reform that voters in our state are demanding.

GREG BROWER

PAT HICKEY

RENO

Mr. Brower, a Republican, represents District 15 in the Nevada state Senate. Mr. Hickey, a Republican, represents District 25 in the Nevada Assembly.

Selective outrage

To the editor:

In the Sunday Review-Journal article “Lawmakers irked by general’s decision,” three female Democrat senators are apparently outraged that an Air Force general exercised his legal authority to overturn a conviction of a pilot charged with sexual assault.

Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill was quoted as saying, “I just think the system is messed up if a general can overturn a case like this with the stroke of a pen. It’s just offensive to anyone’s sense of justice.”

On March 1, President Barack Obama issued pardons overturning the convictions of 17 individuals with the “stroke of a pen.” I guess the senator’s decision to take offense at the “messed up system” is somewhat selective.

J.J. SCHRADER

HENDERSON

Time to clean house

To the editor:

It will be interesting to see what the new pope will do. Will it be same old pattern of covering up the sexual abuse that has been disclosed in recent years? Or will the new pope confront this problem and seek to root out the priests and those in the hierarchy who covered up for them?

It would be a good move if the newly elected pope would set up tribunals consisting of non-Catholic lawyers, investigators and other such experts. Then investigate the claims being made by the abused parishioners.

No bishop or cardinal should have any say in the makeup of these tribunals. If it can be shown that various priests and other religious figures were involved in this shameful activity, either as the abuser or those who covered up for them, they should be defrocked and reported to the authorities. It’s time for the church to clean house.

RICHARD J. MUNDY

LAS VEGAS

Voter ID

To the editor:

Why does Secretary of State Ross Miller always propose bills (AB 63) that will cost the taxpayers more money? Here’s a suggestion that won’t cost a dime: The burden of proving citizenship and eligibility to vote should rest entirely on the registrant. Bring in your birth certificate, U.S. passport, naturalization papers. If you were married, show the name change — whatever applies to each person.

All these documents are easily attainable if you are a person legitimately residing in this country. This way, voters can be assured that the integrity of the voting process is legitimate.

When I registered for the first time, in the ’60s, I was required to show my birth certificate. I wasn’t the least bit offended. The message I got was that there were checks and balances in place to guard against fraud. What happened to common sense? Oh, I forgot, politicians are involved!

Come on, legislators: Start drafting bills that will benefit the taxpayers in this state and lower government spending and interference.

MARLENE DROZD

LAS VEGAS

In-house talent

To the editor:

Before we start this mess all over about a new Clark County School District superintendent, will any of the people who picked the last superintendent please sit down and shut up? We already are hearing what a great job Dwight Jones has done, but Mr. Jones didn’t finish the job. Now we have to spend thousands of dollars and start a new search, and what are we going to get this time? Your guess is as good as mine. We might score big, or we might go backward.

Since we’re talking about education of the children of Las Vegas, has anybody ever thought of reaching into the pool of our teachers and asking one of them to lead this district? Somewhere in Clark County there is a teacher or many teachers who have a great deal of knowledge of what’s going on. I would expect they could steer this district back to education and not politics.

This time, let’s stay at home and save money and pick a superintendent out of the ranks and give them a chance to lead this school district. The past picks have not worked and have cost the taxpayers a bundle.

DAVE MESKER

LAS VEGAS

 

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