By Selwyn Harris
The local woman spearheading the recall effort against Nye County Tax Assessor Shirley Matson believes she is being intentionally harassed by the assessor.
Stephanie Lopez said she received a July 27 letter from Matson’s office requesting Lopez to inventory and declare any and all personal property related to her cleaning business.
Lopez, who said she does not own any such business, says she believes Matson is trying to retaliate against her for starting the recall.
“It just reinforces why I’m doing this recall. This is just my opinion, but because I have a last name of Lopez, and my Mexican descent, she just basically assumes that I own a cleaning business. I felt like she was harassing me and she’s using her position to try to inquire information about me because I’m holding the recall against her,” she said.
In part, the assessor’s letter states, “State law requires reporting all business equipment/assets also known as personal property related to the business to the assessor.”
The letter went on to say that taxes are based on 35 percent of the depreciated value of the declared items and are billed annually.
On Wednesday, Lopez responded to the assessor’s letter with a correspondence of her own explaining that she did not own or operate a business in Nye County, nor does she maintain any business equipment or assets.
In her letter, Lopez also quoted Nevada Revised Statute, which states that she is not obligated to provide any information due to the fact that she is not a business owner.
Lopez’s letter to the assessor was also sent to several county officials, including District 3 Commissioner Gary Hollis and Sheriff Tony DeMeo.
Lopez had not received a response from the assessor’s office by Thursday afternoon.
She said that to her knowledge there is no cleaning business owner in town with the last name of Lopez.
Another passage in Lopez’s letter addressed the issue of Lopez allegedly being singled out based upon a personal vendetta.
“She’s grasping for straws. I don’t have a record and I’m not a bad person. This is my right to do this recall and she’s obviously not happy, so she’s going to harass and discriminate against me because of my last name,” she said.
In an inflammatory email Matson authored last October, she wrote: “I would never have a sic uneducated illegal hater of Americans watch my children or clean my house. They can’t read and have no idea what directions are listed on cleaning supplies. That’s just one example.”
Lopez said she is now in the process of preparing to file a complaint with the Nevada Ethics Commission and the Attorney General’s Office. Lopez also said she is consulting with an attorney for possible legal action against the assessor.
“She ordered her employee to send the letter to me the day we were at the assessor’s office. The same day she posted pictures on her car and the county car. She was obviously not thinking in the right frame of mind. She’s doing this to retaliate and harass me,” she said.
One of the messages posted on Matson’s personal vehicle accused Lopez of being a racist.
Meanwhile, DeMeo said Lopez has a valid claim that Matson may be violating NRS 197.2, which speaks to oppression under the color of office.
“We contacted Ms. Lopez and asked her if she wanted the Nye County Sheriff’s Office to take a statement from her and to do an investigation. At that time she stated that she was taking this to other agencies. So at this time we are not involved in any investigation,” he said.
DeMeo also noted that the timing of Matson’s letter is suspect.
“These people have a right to be there at the assessor’s office and I empathize. It must be tough for Shirley Matson to see this in front of her office, but the fact of the matter is these people are complying with the law and Shirley Matson has to allow them to do what the law allows them to do,” he said
The Pahrump Valley Times sought comment from Matson on the matter but she had not responded as of press time.