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Panel probes Hardy votes

CARSON CITY — An Aug. 14 hearing will be held to determine whether state Sen. Warren Hardy broke state law by voting on two bills that may have helped his private employer, the state Ethics Commission announced Wednesday.

A two-member panel of the commission reviewed Hardy’s voting record for the past three legislative sessions.

It found “just cause” exists to call Hardy, R-Las Vegas, before the full commission to explain his votes on Senate Bill 467 in 2005 and Senate Bill 509 in 2007. The panel threw out complaints filed against Hardy concerning his votes on about a dozen other bills.

The commission wants to determine in the coming hearing whether he used his position as a senator to gain an unwarranted advantage for himself and his employer, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Las Vegas, or ABC.

Hardy is president of the organization, which represents contractors.

He did not abstain from voting or “adequately disclose” his financial interests in SB467, a bill on public works projects, according to the commission panel.

Hardy also did not abstain from voting or “adequately disclose” his financial interest in SB509, a bill that would have required contractors to pay more money to workers on some projects, the panel stated.

Hardy said Wednesday that he has no doubt the full Ethics Commission will throw out the complaints on the two bills, just as the panel did on other bills it reviewed.

“I followed the advice (on disclosing financial interest) of our legal staff, just like everybody else does in the Legislature,” he said. “If we can’t rely on advice of our legal counsel, who can we rely on?”

Henderson resident Richard B. Miller in March filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission alleging Hardy “repeatedly and inappropriately” was voting on bills that benefitted him and ABC without disclosing his financial interest in the legislation.

Miller, who lives in Hardy’s district, could not be reached for comment. In his complaint, Miller said Hardy had sent out a letter “trumpeting” ABC’s defeat of SB509.

Shortly after the complaint was filed, Hardy said he did not have to disclose his ABC relationship before every vote on matters affecting contractors. He added he can vote on bills affecting ABC if the benefit the association and its members receives is not greater than that received by similar companies.

At the beginning of each legislative session, Hardy said, he files a statement identifying his employer and the companies for which it lobbies. That is sufficient disclosure, he added.

Hardy added that he also verbally told the committees that heard SB467 and SB509 that he worked for ABC.

“I went above and beyond my duty by the oral disclosures,” Hardy said. “They want additional information on why the bills did not affect me more than anybody in the construction industry, and I will give it to them. I am not concerned at all. I was permitted and required to vote on those bills.”

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