(NN&V staff) – Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller and State Treasurer Kate Marshall have violated Nevada ethics laws according to Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 281A, Nevada Republican Party Acting Chair Sherry Dilley announced yesterday. A formal ethics complaint is being drafted and is expected to be filed by the end of the week.
Dilley said that Miller and Marshall, both Democrats, are in violation of NRS 281A.520, which dictates that a public officer or employee is “prohibited from requesting or otherwise causing governmental entity to incur expense or make expenditure to support or oppose ballot question or candidate in certain circumstances.”
Both Miller and Marshall have listed their government phone numbers as the contact numbers for their respective re-election campaigns. Miller also has provided his government phone number and email address as contact information for his campaign’s financial disclosure reports.
“Secretary of State Miller and Treasurer Marshall are in clear violation of Nevada law and should be held responsible for their flagrant disregard for the ethical obligations they owe the people of Nevada,” Dilley said.
Steve Martin, former state controller and current Republican candidate for state treasurer, criticized Miller and Marshall for their actions, as well as the obvious double standard.
“It is outrageous that any elected official would use an elected office for campaign purposes, given the financial crisis we face as a state,” Martin said. “Where were they in 2004 when Kathy Augustine was fined by the ethics committee for similar violations?”
In 2004, then-state controller Kathy Augustine was fined $15,000 and was impeached by the Nevada Assembly for improper use of state resources. Dilley claims that for Miller and Marshall to avoid being held to the same standard as Augustine would do a disservice to the citizens of Nevada.
While political officers sometimes need to appear in public service announcements to promote the function of their office, state law prohibits such appearances when the official is also a candidate for re-election. This issue was reviewed by the Nevada Commission of Ethics in 2006 related to allegations made against then-state Treasurer Brian Krolicki.
In their Advisory Opinion, the Commission found that since the public campaign was pulled before Mr. Krolicki filed for office, such campaign was not a violation of ethical duties or state law. In this instance, Miller launched the advertising campaign 10 days after he filed for office. Moreover, he has featured the video produced with state moneys on the homepage of his private campaign website.
Jacob Hafter, Republican candidate for attorney general, was first notified of these allegations last week. After careful review, Hafter believes the allegations are with merit and that Ms. Marshall and Mr. Miller may have violated various state laws including NRS §§ 281.230, 281A.400, 281A.520.
“As the chief elections officer, Mr. Miller has the ultimate authority to ensure that campaign laws are followed,” stated Hafter. “Mr. Miller’s blatant disregard for these laws is shocking and requires an immediate investigation by the Attorney General and Nevada Commission for Ethics.”
“The law is very clear,” concluded Dilley. “Both Secretary of State Miller and Treasurer Marshall are using their pubic offices and taxpayer-funded employees to assist in their re-election campaigns.”