99°F
weather icon Clear

Nye County sheriff signs violate election ethics, opponent says

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, who’s running for re-election against nine other contenders, is under fire for recruitment billboards that her critics say are political campaign ads in disguise.

“In my opinion, a legitimate sign says the department is recruiting citizens and leaves the name of the sheriff off of it,” said Tony DeMeo, a Pahrump resident who served as the county sheriff for 12 years before retiring in 2015. “This gives the appearance that county money is paying for a political advertisement.”

Wehrly said the former county manager, Pam Webster, approved the billboards and that an outside law firm told her they do not violate campaign laws. The primary is June 12.

The four billboards in question — which have popped up in Pahrump and Tonopah — feature a large photo of Wehrly in uniform with the words “Sheriff Sharon Wehrly” in a giant font. In small print underneath her name, it says, “is anticipating openings and wants you on her team!”

“We had a design firm do it, and that’s the way they wrote it,” Wehrly said. “It was patterned after billboards in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.”

The sign says the sheriff is looking for people who are “honest, ethical, hard working” — with the three descriptions in a large font. Critics say most drivers will only see the sheriff’s name, photo and the positive descriptions.

“You’re not going to see the fine print driving 40 miles an hour,” said DeMeo, who has come out of retirement to run for his old seat. “All you see is a photo of the sheriff with that motto.”

DeMeo said he’s also concerned that if Wehrly loses her re-election bid, the next sheriff can’t reuse the recruitment signs. Wehrly said it’s normal for a sheriff to use his or her name on materials, and she couldn’t reuse items after DeMeo retired and she took over.

“Everything he had during his term had his face and name on it,” Wehrly said. “I have all kinds of stuff I can’t use because it had his name on it.”

Some political experts say there’s nothing wrong with Wehrly’s signs — that even if they give her an advantage, it’s just part of the political game.

“It just comes with the territory when you are the office holder. This is the way the game’s played,” said Eric Herzik, chairman of the University of Nevada, Reno political science department. “It’s a recruitment ad, and that’s the advantage that any incumbent has.”

Some Nye County residents have filed a complaint about the signs to District Attorney’s Office, but DA Angela Bello said her office is not investigating.

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST