Updated October 2, 2023 - 6:13 pm
Gov. Joe Lombardo is appealing a decision by the state ethics board that found he violated state ethics law by using his sheriff’s badge and uniform during his campaign for governor.
The appeal, which was filed in a Carson City District Court late last week, challenges a decision in July by the Nevada Commission on Ethics to fine Lombardo $20,000 and censure him for four violations of state ethics law barring the use of government time, property or equipment for personal use.
In the appeal, lawyers for Lombardo challenged not just the state board’s official opinion – calling it “clearly erroneous” and “arbitrary” – but also the constitutionality of the board’s existence.
Lawyers with Campbell and Williams, the law firm that represented Lombardo during the hearing, argued that because half of the executive branch agency is appointed by the Legislature, it deprives the governor of the right to enforce the law and therefore violates the constitutionally mandated separation of powers between government branches.
“The ethics law improperly deprives the governor of authority to appoint all Commission members or otherwise oversee the Commission, and improperly confers on the legislature the right to appoint half the commissioners who sit on the Commission,” the appeal read.
The commission consists of eight members, half appointed by the Governor and the other half chosen by the Legislature.
The appeal names both the Nevada Commission on Ethics and the board’s executive director, Ross Armstrong.
Armstrong declined to comment on pending litigation.