EDITORIAL: Cooling off? More like blowing off

So Nevada’s law requiring a one-year “cooling off” period for casino regulators doesn’t mean what it says after all.

Rather, what the law says depends on who’s asking what it says. So says the Nevada Commission on Ethics.

In the latest addendum to Nevada’s long, disgraceful history of favoritism toward the politically powerful, Pat Mulroy, the former longtime general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, received the ethics panel’s blessing to resign from the Gaming Commission on Thursday and begin work that day as a member of the Wynn Resorts Board of Directors.

An unrestricted revolving door between the state’s gaming regulatory structure and the multibillion-dollar gaming industry would threaten the system’s integrity. Regulators have access to a trove of proprietary and confidential information that would be incredibly valuable to any company’s competitors. That’s why state law is clear: Nevada gaming regulators must be at least one year removed from state service before they can work for a licensed gaming company.

But Ms. Mulroy, disappointingly, has rationalized a way around that law with the help of attorney Peter Bernhard, himself a former Gaming Commission chairman. And the Ethics Commission validated her move by a 4-2 vote.

In her request, Ms. Mulroy noted that in her one year as a regulator she never directly dealt with any major Wynn Resorts issues, and that as a board member she would be “walled off” from gaming interests in Nevada. And Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver told the Review-Journal’s Howard Stutz that Ms. Mulroy is a board member, not a company employee.

Please. She’ll collect handsome compensation from Wynn Resorts, including stock options, that will reach well into six figures. Of course she works for Wynn Resorts. And her regulatory contact with Wynn Resorts’ competitors is as much a concern as any perception of a quid-pro-quo arrangement — such as her August vote in favor of a minor Wynn Resorts matter.

The Ethics Commission remains as worthless an entity as any in state government. It’s supposed to make sure people do the right thing, not enable the opposite. It should be cleaned out or killed outright.

Ms. Mulroy is certainly qualified to serve on the Wynn Resorts board. But she must wait at least one year to begin that job. A career of public service doesn’t make anyone above the law.

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