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Joe Lombardo’s ethics case has been delayed. Here’s why

Updated June 13, 2023 - 11:12 am

Gov. Joe Lombardo’s ethics case has been rescheduled from Tuesday to sometime in July after two commissioners indicated they would be unable to attend the meeting in person.

Nevada Commission on Ethics Chair Kim Wallin granted a motion Monday from Lombardo’s attorneys to reschedule the hearing after they learned that one commissioner planned to participate virtually and another was unable to participate at all.

In their motion for a rescheduled hearing, Lombardo’s attorneys requested that all eligible commissioners attend the hearing in person.

Last week, the Nevada Commission on Ethics released hundreds of pages of materials and a motion for summary judgment written on behalf of the commission’s executive director, Ross Armstrong, that alleges that Lombardo committed ethics violations by using his Clark County sheriff’s badge and uniform in his campaign for governor.

Lombardo’s attorneys argue, however, that because Lombardo was sheriff at the time and not governor, he did not commit ethics violations. His supporters also have come out to express First Amendment concerns, arguing that he had a right to inform people about his occupation and experience.

Armstrong, as part of the ethics complaint process, investigated the claims of ethics violations and found that Lombardo used governmental time, property or equipment to benefit his personal or pecuniary interests.

At the hearing in July, the commission is expected to hear from both sides and determine whether a violation occurred, and if so, if that violation was willful. If it is willful, the commission will determine what the penalty should be.

Armstrong is requesting that Lombardo be fined a civil penalty of about $1.67 million — much larger than other fines given out from the commission in the past — as well as a censure and the designation of an ethics officer in the governor’s office.

This is not the first time the ethics hearing has been moved. A dispositive motion hearing was scheduled for February, but Lombardo sought a new hearing for May 2023. Then Lombardo requested a new date, arguing that Nevada’s legislative session would prevent him in assisting his lawyers.

Armstrong opposed Lombardo’s request to continue the hearing from Tuesday, arguing that Lombardo did not show good cause and that the hearing was complying with all requirements of the law and meeting quorum. Armstrong also argued that if the hearing were delayed further, Lombardo would be asked to reappoint or replace commissioners when their terms expire, according to the order continuing the hearing.

Two commissioners’ terms expire in October, and another expires June 30.

Wallin granted Lombardo’s request for a rescheduled hearing. An exact date has not been set, as Armstrong is connecting with each commissioner to see when they are available.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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