‘There’s no punishment there’

It’s rare that the state Ethics Commission does anything useful, but perhaps its decision this week to reject a deal with a former state official who is accused of approving unauthorized pay hikes for himself and his staff represents a turning point.

The agreement called for Bob Loux, who for more than two decades was the point man in the state’s battle against the Yucca Mountain Project, to repay $29,000 in salary overages. But the commission voted 3-2 against resolving the case in that fashion.

“All he would be doing is giving back money that he should not have received in the first place,” noted Acting Commissioner Robert Weise with refreshing common sense. “There’s no punishment there.”

The decision means the commission will move forward with a March 12 hearing in the matter, which could result in additional fines or sanctions against Mr. Loux.

But regardless of what the commission eventually does with Mr. Loux, the nagging question remains: Where is Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto in all this?

Ms. Cortez Masto, a Democrat, wasted little time last year indicting Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, a Republican, on charges that he mishandled a college savings account fund when he was state treasurer. The indictment provides few details and offers no evidence that Mr. Krolicki enriched himself through his actions.

Meanwhile, Mr. Loux, who resigned last year, is accused of padding his own paycheck — he earned $151,000 last year when he was authorized to receive $114,000 — with taxpayer funds that he was not allowed to spend.

Yes, Mr. Loux may eventually face criminal charges. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office says it is investigating the matter. But it’s rather odd that the state’s top law enforcement official still remains on the sidelines.


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