(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Gov. Jim Gibbons today defended his taxpayer-funded staff for working on his reelection campaign on their own time, saying they have a First Amendment Right to do so.
Gibbons made his comments during a taping of the Nevada NewsMakers program that aired today on KRNV Channel 4 in Reno.
He said criticisms aimed at the actions of Robin Reedy, his chief of staff, and Stacy Woodbury, his deputy chief of staff, for working on his campaign on their own time are illogical.
“You look at the Hatch Act, it expressly allows for people to engage in political activities in their time away from work, when they are not on the public taxpayer payroll,” Gibbons said.
Questions had been raised about whether such activities might violate the federal Hatch Act, which limits partisan political activities by state and local employees.
He called any such suggestions uninformed, and said carrying the erroneous argument to its logical conclusion would mean state employees could not even vote.
As long as it is clear the employees are doing the work on their own time, there is no cause for concern, Gibbons said.
The issue arose last week when it was disclosed that Reedy, a Douglas County resident long involved in Republican politics, was hosting a fundraiser for Gibbons. After concerns were expressed by the media and political observers, Reedy cancelled the event.
Woodbury also works on the campaign on her own time as the webmaster for the Gibbons reelection website.
Gibbons also disclosed during the NewsMakers interview that U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., has not discussed with him the potential of his resignation from the Senate. Ensign has been under fire after admitting earlier this year he had an extramarital affair with a married campaign staff member from December 2007 through August 2008.
Gibbons said he has not even considered a candidate for Ensign’s seat, “because he has not talked to me about whether or not he is going to resign or not.”
“I’m assuming he is going to continue in his job,” Gibbons said.