Boulder City official faces ethics hearing

Boulder City Councilman Cam Walker faces an ethics complaint filed in connection with a 2012 vote he cast for a $1.4 billion solar project that his employer wanted to build.

Thomas Finn, the town’s former police chief, had requested an opinion on Walker’s action from the Nevada Commission on Ethics, citing concerns about Walker’s June 26, 2012, vote on a resolution involving the Korea Midland Power Company project. Walker, the director of business development for McCarthy Construction, was employed by one of the companies bidding to build the solar plant, Finn told the commission. Walker, during the council meeting, did say his company was involved in one of seven construction proposals submitted, according to Finn’s letter to the commission.

McCarthy was listed as a potential, qualified general contractor in the proposal that the council voted on, according to an ethics panel determination issued last week. The panel found cause for the matter to move forward to a full commission hearing to determine whether Walker failed to make required disclosures from Sept. 27, 2011, onward.

The two areas that the commission will consider are whether Walker followed the disclosure requirements properly and abstained from voting, as the law requires. The commission hearing is scheduled for April 16-17.

“I’m looking forward to Mr. Walker facing the ethics commission and answering some very pointed questions that I’m going to be submitting,” Finn said in an interview.

Finn said he has no ill will toward Walker, adding that it’s a matter of accountability. His complaint is dated April 10, 2013, five days before Boulder City fired Finn, who was chief for seven years.

Asked whether his firing was connected to the complaint, Finn said: “I don’t think it was coincidental that I was fired after these charges were filed.”

Finn has a complaint pending over his firing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Walker said he was pleased that portions of Finn’s initial complaint were tossed out. Those include potential violations of the law against using a position to secure unwarranted privileges and participating as a government agent in negotiation or execution of a contract in which the official has an interest.

“Now I need to share when I disclosed and why I disclosed, and I look forward to having that opportunity,” he said.

As for the timing of Finn’s firing, Walker said: “I have no knowledge or information regarding that. That’s all subject to the city manager at that time.”

If found to have violated state ethics laws Walker could face penalties of as much as $5,000 for a first violation, up to $10,000 for a second violation and $25,000 for a third violation. The commission can seek legal fees and costs and a civil penalty of up to twice the amount obtained if financial gain is involved.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin or 702-387-2904. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.

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