Commission rejects Loux deal

CARSON CITY — The state Ethics Commission on a 3-2 vote Thursday refused to accept former state Agency for Nuclear Projects administrator Bob Loux’s proposal to pay the state back more than $29,000 in salary overpayments in exchange for dropping an ethics complaint against him.

Acting Commissioner Robert Weise said he could not accept Loux’s proposal “because there is no punishment here.”

“All he would be doing is giving back money that he should not have received in the first place,” he said.

The decision means the Ethics Commission will go forward with a planned March 12 evidentiary hearing at which many state officials, including former Gov. Kenny Guinn, have been subpoenaed to attend.

That civil hearing might last several days and commissioners could decide to fine Loux and order him to pay back additional funds to the state.

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, filed an ethics complaint against Loux after a September legislative hearing. At that hearing, Loux admitted taking the salary of an employee who retired from his office and dividing it up among his staff and himself.

Soon afterward, Gov. Jim Gibbons released results of an audit that showed Loux and his staff for at least three years received as much as 33 percent more than their legislatively approved salaries.

According to the administration, Loux made a $151,442 salary last year when he was entitled to receive $114,088. Governors of Nevada earn $141,000 a year.

Gibbons called for Loux’s resignation.

Loux eventually resigned and recently was replaced by Bruce Breslow as the head of the agency that fights against the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

As head of the agency for 23 years, Loux was one of the best known officials in Nevada.

After rejecting Loux’s proposed agreement Thursday, Ethics Commission Chairman Mark Hutchison and other commissioners said they would accept the stipulation if in it Loux admitted that he “willfully violated” ethics laws by diverting money to his and his staff salaries without proper authority.

Tom Perkins, one of Loux’s lawyers, refused to accept that offer. He said that admitting to a willful violation might adversely affect his client if criminal charges eventually are brought against him.

“I would not like an admission (of a willful violation) brought against him in that context,” Perkins said.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Department is investigating whether Loux violated state laws by his decisions that increased salaries for himself and his staff.

Carson City District Attorney Neil Rombardo has agreed to prosecute if a criminal indictment is filed against Loux.

By admitting to a willful violation, Loux also could have been fined as much as $5,000 by the Ethics Commission.

Hutchison questioned how Loux could not be guilty of a willful violation since “he took a full salary of someone in the department and divvied it up without authority.”

Besides paying back $16,444 in salary overpayments and $12,922 in overpaid retirement benefits, Loux likely will be forced to pay back another $22,000 in salary overpayment he received in two earlier years. Perkins said the state controller is still determining what Loux must pay back for those years.

During the hearing, Judy Sheldrew, another of Loux’s lawyers, said that state law from the time of Guinn’s administration gave governors the authority to change salaries of Loux and people in his office as long as they did not exceed legislatively approved spending for the agency.

Salaries were increased under this procedure, according to Sheldrew, and state budget officers for some reason did not pick up the changes in subsequent budgets presented to the Legislature.

She said Guinn “essentially delegated” to Loux the authority to set his agency’s salaries.

Rules on this procedure were supposed to have been written, but they were “all verbal,” Sheldrew added.

“It will be difficult to sort out who is responsible for all these messes,” said Perkins, adding that the administration and the Legislature also are to blame.

Weise, however, said there was no record of governors actually approving Loux’s salary adjustments and he would like to hear from people in positions of authority on whether they knew of the adjustments.

Perkins acknowledged that Loux “made a lot of mistakes” and did not tell the Gibbons’ administration about diverting the salary of a vacant position to himself and his staff.

He said Loux had a “distinguished” 30-year career with the state, lost his job and likely will not find a comparable job in today’s economy.

“He agrees it was an ethical transgression,” Perkins said.

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

Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local astronomers host super blood wolf moon viewing
The Las Vegas Astronomical Society paired with the College of Southern Nevada to host a lunar eclipse viewing Sunday night. Known as the super blood wolf moon, the astronomical event won't occur for another 18 years. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @btesfaye
First former felon to work for Nevada Department of Corrections
After his father died, Michael Russell struggled for years with drug addiction. When he finally decided to change for good, he got sober and worked for years to help others. Now he is the first former felon to be hired by the Nevada Department of Corrections. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing