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EDITORIAL: Pay more for less?

If the 2015 Legislature wants to reward nonperformance, then by all means lawmakers should boost the budget of the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline.

But if lawmakers are serious about directing spending increases where the state might see some return on investment, then they’ll ignore the funding complaints of commission Executive Director Paul Deyhle and tell him to do better with what he already gets.

As reported Monday by the Review-Journal’s Jeff German, Mr. Deyhle plans to ask for a 40 percent increase in his two-year budget — 40 percent! — to more than $900,000. He wants to add two positions to his three-person office (including himself); he wants new computers, software and phones; he wants a new office that isn’t next to a noisy fitness center; and he wants legislation to give him access to “emergency” funds. You know, in case he burns through the 40 percent budget increase he’s asking for. Cue the violins.

If the commission were doing its job — appropriately punishing judges for legal and ethical missteps — perhaps a case could be made for more funding. But it wasn’t that long ago that the Nevada Supreme Court’s Article 6 Commission blasted the Commission on Judicial Discipline for a lack of accountability and exceedingly slow proceedings. This year, the panel again validated that criticism by blowing three-quarters of its budget on a single disciplinary action against disgraced Family Court Judge Steven Jones. Despite ample evidence and precedent to remove Jones from the bench over a romantic relationship with a prosecutor who appeared before him, the commission gave him a three-month suspension without pay. That decision cost taxpayers dearly, because after that wrist-slap suspension, Jones returned to paid leave over separate criminal charges and collected an additional $100,000 in salary before pleading guilty and resigning his office.That decision can’t be blamed on poor funding. It was poor judgment.

Pay more for a panel that lets corrupt public officials skate? Lawmakers’ answer should be obvious.

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