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Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo Hit With Record Fine, Censured, for Multiple Campaign Ethics Violations

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Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo Hit With Record Fine, Censured, for Multiple Campaign Ethics Violations

Ethics Commission Report: “The Commission’s holding is unequivocal—there are no circumstances under which it is appropriate for public officers, such as Lombardo, to use public resources to support their own campaign.”

Yesterday, after extensive delays and after Gov. Joe Lombardo installed two new political appointees to the Nevada Ethics Commission (the only members to vote against holding the Governor accountable), the Commission determined in a 4-2 vote that the governor had willingly committed multiple ethics violations to benefit his campaign for governor and fined Lombardo $20,000 — the largest of its kind in state history — in addition to being censured.

While running for governor last year, Lombardo repeatedly used his public office as sheriff to benefit his campaign, producing dozens of campaign materials featuring his uniform and badge.

In response to the news, Democratic Governors Association National Press Secretary Devon Cruz released the following statement:

“The decision by the Nevada Ethics Commission confirms what was obvious on the campaign trail: Joe Lombardo willfully and unethically used his taxpayer-funded office as sheriff to further his own political ambitions, choosing to serve himself over the people of Nevada. It’s good to see the Commission hold Gov. Lombardo accountable for his multiple ethics violations. Nevadans deserve to have a governor who will not break the law just to achieve their own political ends.”

Key Excerpts from the Hearing:

  • Gov. Lombardo’s Attorney J. Colby Williams: “I think I can certainly say, obviously, the posting of the images was a willful act, no argument there. And I think posting them, obviously, Governor Lombardo and his campaign hoped that they would be beneficial. I don’t think there’s any debate about that.”
  • Williams:  “I can’t sit here and deny that the campaign posted the images. It did. I’m not in the mindset of what the campaign thought, but do I think they can say they thought it would be beneficial, I think you wouldn’t take me seriously if I said something differently. Of course it did.”

Key Excerpts from the Nevada Ethics Commission’s Initial Report:

  • “The Undisputed Facts Show Lombardo’s Violations Were Willful.”
  • “The Commission has determined that using a uniform and other accouterment of a public officer’s public position to secure an advantage for themselves in a campaign is a serious Ethics Law violation.”
  • “The Commission’s holding is unequivocal—there are no circumstances under which it is appropriate for public officers, such as Lombardo, to use public resources to support their own campaign.”
  • “The vast number of times the uniform and badge were used in campaign materials increases the seriousness of the violation.”
  • “Additionally, Subject made no attempt to rectify his violations of the Ethics Law after he received notice of the Complaints in these matters. Instead, he continued to maintain all the images at issue on his campaign website and social media sites. Not only that, but he produced additional campaign content featuring the use of his uniform and badge all the way through the end of the campaign.”

Read the full report here.

 

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