Monday, November 15, 2004

Nevada State Controller Impeached

The Nevada Assembly has impeached State Controller Kathy Augustine in a unanimous vote, setting the stage for a trial in the Nevada Senate on charges that she illegally used her state office staff and equipment for her 2002 re-election campaign.

The three impeachment articles cover the same acts for which the state ethics commission fined Augustine $15,000 in September, after she stipulated to three willful violations of the state's ethics statutes. Augustine has said the violations were campaign-related and had nothing to do with the performance of her job.

The controversy surrounding Augustine's use of state employees' time for personal political gain is similar to one of the investigations into California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, who has been accused of using Help America Vote Act funds to promote himself instead of bettering California's voting systems. Coincidentally, both politicians have also been accused of creating a hostile work atmosphere.

Comptroller and Secretary of State may not exactly be glamour positions, but they are important positions nonetheless. Americans deserve better than self-serving politicians who abuse their position and the public trust.

As Anjeanette Damon reports in the Reno Gazette-Journal, the Nevada Senate convicted State Controller Kathy Augustine on one of the three impeachment counts against her. Instead of removing Augustine from office, the Senate voted to censure her.

Rather than showing any contrition for being convicted of one of the three impeachment counts against her, Augustine said she felt vindicated, and left open the possibility of running for public office again. If Augustine does run for office again, the people of Nevada, not Augustine, will have the final say on whether it is acceptable for public officials to use state money and state employees and state offices to run their political campaigns.

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