Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo has filed a suit challenging the authority of the state ethics committee to fine and censure the former Clark County Sheriff for using the sheriff’s badge and uniform he received from the county during his campaign for governor in 2022.
The Nevada Commission on Ethics found Lombardo in violation of ethics laws after his campaign published four photos showing him wearing a county-issued badge on his campaign materials. This was found to be a violation of a statute which prohibits the use government resources for private interests without warrants.
The lawsuit was filed in Carson City District Court last week to circumvent the authority of the state ethics committee to impose such fines. It claims that this violates separation of powers in the state constitution. Lombardo’s lawyers claim that the state legislature is responsible for appointing half of the members to the commission.
The bill also seeks to prevent the commission from ever conducting an investigation or imposing any penalties on the governor.
They claim that the July ruling is “arbitrary, inflexible, or an abuse of discretion.”
The Nevada Independent reported the first lawsuit that stated “The Ethics Law deprived the Governor of the authority to appoint or oversee all members of the Commission.” “And improperly confers to the legislature the power to appoint the half of the commissioners.”
Lombardo was given a censure and a fine of $20,000, but he avoided the nearly $1.67million fine that Ross Armstrong, the executive director of the commission, had originally sought for 68 alleged infractions — two violations for each of 34 times the campaign published one of the photos.
Armstrong stated in an email on Monday that he was unable to comment on any pending litigation.
Elizabeth Ray, spokesperson for Lombardo, referred all comments to the Governor’s Counsel. The governor’s counsel did not reply to a question asking if there were any comments beyond the contents of the filing.