CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons voluntarily chose to abstain from voting at a state Transportation Board meeting on a matter benefiting a key member of his transition team, Patty Wade.
During the Thursday meeting, Gibbons said he wanted to abstain because Wade’s company, Wade Development, had contributed to his campaign.
But Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who also sits on the Transportation Board, expressed concern that a precedent would be set if public officials had to abstain on issues affecting people who contributed to their campaigns. He said he also received a contribution from Wade Development, but wanted to vote.
Krolicki also pointed out that Wade served as one of Gibbons’ transition team education advisers. She chaired his education transition team during the legislative session and advocated for the governor’s school empowerment program during hearings in the Legislature.
For that reason, Krolicki said Gibbons might have to abstain.
Gibbons himself had not mentioned Wade’s involvement on his behalf during the legislative session.
Joe Ward, a deputy attorney general for the Transportation Board, read the state law that stipulates when public officials should abstain from voting. He noted public officials were not required by law to abstain simply because someone contributed to their campaigns. Ward called Gibbons’ decision “above and beyond the call of duty.”
The Transportation Board ultimately approved a request by Wade to allow her company to gain access to Interstate 80 in Fernley. A new interchange is planned where her company is creating a major development. Wade said her company will spend $30 million on the development, creating jobs and boosting the economy in the Fernley area. The Lyon County Commission backed her request.