Nye County’s tax assessor was ready to get back to work Thursday after two of her computers were returned after being confiscated by the FBI last week.
Shirley Matson became embroiled in the latest controversy after it was revealed she had taken a package addressed to the FBI without authorization on Oct. 9 from the county’s outgoing mail receptacle in her office.
It’s unclear what, if anything the FBI may have discovered on Matson’s computers, or whether she faces any federal charges.
What is certain, however, is that the return of her computers doesn’t end her latest troubles — not by a long shot.
Emails obtained by the Pahrump Valley Times between Matson and numerous county officials sent after the incident in her office threaten to create more problems for the assessor, exposing her and also the county to a variety of potential new headaches.
After last week’s visit from the FBI, Matson lashed out in an electronic tirade against various officials and even employees in her office. In numerous emails, Matson doesn’t just name the employees, but appears to single them out for retaliation. One employee, who suffered a major medical episode recently and hasn’t been at work, was also named, singled out and accused of abusing county sick leave policies.
The tirade potentially violates all kinds of county personnel policies, potentially breaks federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) rules, and may leave Matson open to a variety of state ethics charges.
Also, the county may be in the ironic position of having to defend Matson should she be sued over her latest antics.
Following are descriptions of two of the numerous emails Matson sent to people outside her office over the last several days that blast officials and those she believes are conspiring against her.
The emails got to be so much for one county commissioner, they sought to block Matson from sending any more.
In one missive, sent at 10:21 a.m. on Oct. 11, Matson names several employees in her office who she thinks conspired against her. She rails against them. The PVT will not be naming them in this story to save them from any public ridicule.
“Starting next week, (Employee #1), (Employee #2) and (Employee #3)’s work stations will be moved. This will allow them to have a birds (sic) eye view of my every move so they will be able to concentrate on their jobs which need to be done efficiently and correctly which is not happening currently,” the email starts out.
It continues, “(Employee #1) will be moved from her cave with the side door to a cubical (sic) location where taxpayers can see her, (Employee #3) will be moved to the middle work station and (Employee #2) will be moved to the desk closest to my office, this will facilitate better service at the counter as well.”
Innocuous enough so far? Maybe. But then in bold, italics and underlined language, Matson blasts the county’s human resources head, Danelle Shamrell, “about being an obstructionist to my decision, she has no authority in that Assessor’s office.”
Matson further attacks another of her employees, this one in the Tonopah office. The person won’t be named here but is named in the email. The PVT has learned that the county employee in question recently suffered a severe medical episode that prevented the person from returning to work.
Matson, however, brings this person up in her email as someone who is defying her authority and getting away with it.
“I also would like the commission to instruct Ms. Shamrell (sic) to do what is mandated for an employee on sick leave, and to like wise (sic) advice (sic) the employee; (sic) to give direct communication to me by (Employee #4) and on a (sic) acceptable time schedule. I have good reason to believe she is abusing her sick leave. I demand Ms. Shamrell immediately provide me a copy of all Doctor (sic) correspondence in regards to (Employee #4)’s sick leave.”
At the end of the email in question, the elected assessor asks county commissioners to instruct Shamrell to “help facilitate anger management training as well as physiological (sic) consultations” for Employee #1 and Employees #2, “as a result of their most currant (sic) outrageous behavior.”
The email returns to a bold typeface and continues, “These women need to know in no uncertain terms that I do not have to justify anything I do to them nor do I report to them! And our district attorney needs to do his job and advice (sic) these women the consequences of malleolus (sic), false accusations.”
Asked to comment for the record, no county official wished to respond to Matson’s tirade. The officials on the receiving end of the emails were District Attorney Brian Kunzi, County Manager Pam Webster, the employees she singles out, Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall, Shamrell, and all five county commissioners.
Beyond lashing out at longtime county workers, Matson also mocked the FBI investigation into her activities.
In an email also dated Oct. 11, but sent later than the other, Matson seems to suggest she needs to provide advance notice of her movements now, just in case the agents are still watching her.
“I might be going to the post office or even going out for a bite to eat today so the FBI should gas up their car,” the email reads. “Do you think I did not see them in their dark colored car tailing me on Wednesday to lunch and to drop of (sic) a apparently (in bold) very very important CD left out in the open and to access by the general public that I hand carried to the POST OFFICE. Why would something so important not have been hand carried to the Post Office anyway by Administration?”
It’s not clear if any officials responded to Matson’s emails, which are defensive at best, abusive and misleading at worst.
Sources tell the PVT that the county is awaiting the FBI’s next move before pursuing its own actions against the assessor. The FBI has so far not commented on the case.
Matson was embroiled in another controversy a few years ago when emails surfaced that included a number of racist remarks about Hispanics. She eventually faced ethics charges at that time, earning herself a $5,000 fine in the process. A recall effort to remove her from office failed. She announced recently her plan to run for a second term.