Lombardo juggles work and campaigning for governor

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by Dana Gentry, Nevada Current
August 30, 2022

“I really hope the people of Clark County know how hard I work,” Las Vegas Metro Sheriff and Republican Gov. hopeful Joe Lombardo told The Current recently. But a review of LVMPD data indicates that Lombardo shows up in office about three times a week as he campaigns for the state’s top job.

Data obtained through an open records request and provided to Current includes the date, time and location where Lombardo’s security badge was used between January 1, 2021 and March 25, 2022.

According to the data, Lombardo entered a Metro 205 installation over 308 working days between January 1, 2021 and March 25, 2022. He did not slip between June 25, 2021 and July 5, 2021, a period that includes its June 28th. , 2021 campaign launch, or March 11, 2022 through March 20, 2022, which includes the day he officially dropped off in Carson City to run for governor.

Only three of the 1,235 recorded sweeps involved police facilities other than Metro’s Martin Luther King Boulevard. Headquarter.

Lombardo did not respond to questions about his leave. His campaign referred questions to Metro, which did not respond. The Current has no evidence the sheriff was on the clock while campaigning.

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The sheriff has firmly rejected the idea that as a non-partisan office holder he should step down while campaigning in a polarizing election.

“My main goal is to fight crime and create a safe environment in Clark County,” he told The Current earlier this year. “My secondary goal is to run for governor.”

Elected officials campaigning for one office while serving in another are far from unusual. Lombardo’s campaign foe, Gov. Steve Sisolak, was on Clark County’s payroll as a Democratic county commissioner during his campaign for governor’s office four years ago.

As governor, Sisolak spent many working days participating in what could be described as campaign events. But given the extent of the Governor’s surveillance, a connection to these events – whether it’s appearing at a Culinary Union rally supporting rent control or visiting Lake Mead during a water crisis – seems easier to draw for Sisolak than for Lombardo.

“From welcoming students to school in Washoe earlier this month to handling the drought crisis at Lake Mead this week, Governor Sisolak meets and talks with Nevadans in his official capacity every day. campaign spokeswoman Reeves Oyster said in a statement. “Last month, the governor hosted 49 scheduled meetings or events in his official capacity, not including daily briefings with his staff, cabinet and subcabinet.”

Lombardo said his efforts to increase Metro’s budget from earlier this year is proof that he is acting independently, and perhaps contrary to his campaign’s best interests.

“If I was much more concerned about running for governor, I wouldn’t even be putting this on the radar for people to wonder,” he said.

He insisted he was able to juggle his full-time job as a sheriff with the equally, if not more intense, demands of campaigning for the state’s top spot.

On the track or at work?

“I’ve always thought if you’re a public employee you probably have to quit because there’s no way you can campaign full time and do your job full time,” says Sondra Cosgrove of the League of Women Voters of Nevada. But, she adds, such a policy would give incumbents an unfair advantage.

Cosgrove notes that judges, elected and appointed, are ethically prohibited from seeking elective office while sitting on the bench.

In 1939, Congress determined that “to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan manner, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced on the basis of merit and not on the basis of political affiliation,” federal employees, District of Columbia employees and certain state and local government employees would be prohibited from engaging in partisan activities.​​​​​

The Hatch Law prohibits partisan political activity by persons primarily employed by agencies funded in whole or in part by federal loans or grants, including law enforcement. Governors are exempt from the law.

Federal authorities complained in 2004 that former Henderson police chief Richard Perkins violated the Hatch Act by simultaneously running the department and serving in the Nevada Assembly.

The Office of the Special Counsel alleged that Perkins violated the law “by running as a Democratic candidate for re-election to the Nevada Assembly in a partisan election when his main job at the Henderson Police Department was related to programs funded in full or in full”. in part by loans or grants from federal agencies.

An administrative law judge ultimately dismissed the OSC complaint, saying the government had failed to meet its burden of proving the law applied to Perkins.

Lombardo’s campaign says he is not violating the Hatch Act.

a day in the life

On Tuesday, June 29, 2021, Lombardo kicked off his campaign for governor. The next day, he launched his campaign in Reno. He hasn’t used his security badge at Metro all week.

Lombardo started Labor Day weekend early with a visit to Elko on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. There is no record of the sheriff going to the subway that day.

On Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, the sheriff was in Lincoln County, according to Facebook posts. He didn’t slip in Metro.

On Tuesday, October 5, 2021, Lombardo was in Reno. He didn’t slip in Metro. The next morning, he attended a Hispanic Politics Breakfast in Las Vegas and entered Metro at 10:15 a.m.

On Thursday, December 9, the sheriff visited Winnemucca. He did not enter the subway that day or the next day, Friday, Dec. 10, which he spent at the opening of his campaign office in Reno.

The sheriff spent Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Incline Village in Lake Tahoe, an enclave of wealthy residents with a higher concentration of Republicans than surrounding areas of Washoe County. Lombardo did not enter Metro that day.

Lombardo did not enter Metro from Friday, March 11, 2022 through Monday, March 21, 2022. He spent Monday, March 14, in Carson City, where he filed his candidacy. He also attended the Elko County Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday, March 25. It didn’t slip any day.

On several occasions, Lombardo slid into Metro but also attended campaign events, according to his social media accounts.

On Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, the Sheriff arrived at the subway at 8:39 a.m. He left later that day to spend the afternoon with the All Commercial Networking Group, according to his social media posts, and did not did not slip again at Subway.

On February 9, 2022, Lombardo attended a candidate’s luncheon at Mesquite. At 3:32 p.m., he slid into Metro HQ.

Lombardo’s spring and summer were punctuated by visits to Sparks in May, as well as Douglas, Lyon, Humboldt, Elko and White Pine counties in June. He visited Washoe County on Wednesday August 10, Carson City on Friday August 12 and was back in Fallon on Friday August 26.

Balance

“There is a balance here,” says Ken Miller, professor of political science at UNLV. “On the one hand, public officials cannot engage in campaign activities on public time or use their office resources or personnel for campaign purposes. Officials should be careful to keep these things separate. On the other hand, there is the inverse problem of a public servant who strays too far from his current job responsibilities to campaign.

Athar Haseebullah, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada, said it’s the sheriff’s responsibility to be transparent about his time off.

“If he doesn’t, it’s shocking enough that any leader, let alone a public servant, expects his employees to physically show up for work every day without doing so themselves, and while earning exponentially more pay than many ordinary patrol officers,” Haseebullah said.

The sheriff earned a total salary of $203,964.92 in 2020, according to Clear Nevada, a website that tracks government employee salaries. The site is operated by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which declined to comment for this story.

Some suggest that Lombardo focused on the campaign at the expense of voters.

Year-to-date through July, crime is up 3% year over year in Metro’s jurisdiction, driven by a 15% increase in property crimes. Robberies have increased by 27% since the beginning of the year.

“It underscores again why he (Lombardo) should resign now and focus on his political campaign if that is the reason for his absence, and leave the department in the hands of those who work full time,” Hasseebullah said.

Some states, such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona, have “resign to run” laws, which prohibit a job holder from seeking another position without first resigning. However, these laws generally give office holders wiggle room, such as exempting those serving the last year of their current term.

Opponents say such laws put people in public service positions at a disadvantage, as they often cannot afford to leave their jobs. Moreover, “resign to run” laws amplify the power of tenure, they say.

“On the one hand, public employees should do their job, but on the other hand, elected officials most often technically campaign while on the job. So if we say that public employees must do their job before campaigning, shouldn’t elected officials also be required to be completely “out of time” while campaigning? asks Cosgrove. “I would like to see regulations that specify when a public employee or elected official is allowed to campaign to ensure that their regular job is done.”

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor-in-Chief Hugh Jackson with any questions: [email protected]. Follow the Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

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