By SEAN WHALEY
CARSON CITY — A two-member panel of the state Ethics Commission will decide Sept. 11 whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a hearing on whether Gov. Jim Gibbons received an undeserved property tax break on land he owns in Elko County.
The complaint was filed by the executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party.
Gibbons has called the complaint baseless.
Patty Cafferata, executive director of the Ethics Commission, said the hearing will be public in keeping with Gibbons’ wishes that the entire ethics proceeding be open.
Such proceedings usually are confidential until a decision has been reached by the panel on whether to dismiss an ethics complaint or move forward to a full hearing.
Cafferata said that at Gibbons’ request, all of the information about the complaint and his response are posted on the agency’s Web site at http://ethics.nv.gov/.
Commissioners Mark Hutchison and Paul Lamboley will consider the evidence submitted by Democratic Party official Travis Brock and Gibbons’ response and decide whether there is reason to take the matter to a full hearing or dismiss it.
Only one of the two commissioners has to vote to go forward for the complaint to be heard by the entire panel.
Brock has alleged that Gibbons got a tax break he did not deserve on the vacant land in rural Elko County.
The 40 acres now owned by Gibbons were part of a ranch owned by a former judge, Jerry Carr Whitehead, who has paid Gibbons more than $5,700 in lease payments to use the land for grazing.
Based on that, Gibbons said the land deserved to be classified as agricultural.
Elko County Assessor Joe Aguirre has said he felt pressured by Gibbons and Gibbons’ lawyer in the matter, Tax Commissioner John Marvel, to grant the agricultural status.
Gibbons said the complaint by Brock is partisan.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.