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Rory Reid’s ethics ideas crop up in lobbyist debate

Gubernatorial hopeful Rory Reid on Tuesday got to put part of the ethics plan he’s proposed for state government into action during his current job as chairman of the Clark County Commission.

Reid, a Democrat, was among five commissioners who opposed a proposal by county judges to hire as a lobbyist former Assemblyman Morse Arberry.

The proposal was the subject of a snippy debate between Chief Judge Art Ritchie who wanted to hire Arberry and commissioners like Reid who opposed the idea, in large part because the lobbying deal was put together while Arberry was still in office.

"Many of us believe it is bad public policy to have a legislator hired without some period of time in which they can cool off," said Reid. "I think it creates a public perception that is wrong."

A two-year cooling off period between the time a legislator can serve as a lobbyist is part of Reid’s proposed ethics plan for state government, the only such plan by a major-party candidate in the race.

Republican Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge, hasn’t issued any detailed proposals to make state government more ethical, but Sandoval campaign spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner says he would support a cooling off period to prevent so-called "revolving door" lobbying contracts.

Reid is trailing Sandoval by as many as 20 percentage points or more in statewide polls, but seeking to establish himself as the more substantive candidate largely through his written proposals on ethics, the state budget, education and the economy.

Reid’s ethics plan says such a cooling off period "would guarantee that no legislator can lobby his or her former colleagues for at least one full legislative session."

It also calls for more funding for the Nevada Ethics Commission, establishing an open meeting law for the legislature and more restrictions on gifts from lobbyists.

The lobbying debate Tuesday was the result of a proposal to hire Arberry at a cost of about $124,000 to lobby the legislature on behalf of Clark County judges.

Reid, who objected on the grounds Arberry negotiated a deal to lobby the legislature while still in office then resigned to take the well-paying gig, was one of five commissioners who opposed the deal. Steve Sisolak opposed it saying he doesn’t think government agencies should use public money to hire lobbyists to influence other government agencies.

Commissioners Tom Collins and Lawrence Weekly voted to authorize the proposed arrangement.

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