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Pahrump tourism committee bites back

The Pahrump Tourism Advisory Committee, which has been at the center of now closed ethics complaints regarding Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo, has issued a response to statements Blundo made in relation to the outcome of that situation.

In April of this year, two ethics complaints were filed by members of town of Pahrump staff following interactions between the committee and Blundo, who was then acting as a commission liaison to the committee. Just over one month ago, the Nevada Commission on Ethics accepted a stipulation agreement that determined while Blundo’s actions were improper, they should not be considered a “willful” nor “significant” violation of the law and that he did not benefit financially from his actions.

In a statement to the Pahrump Valley Times, Blundo, who is currently running for the Nevada Congressional District 4 Republican nomination, wrote that he agreed with the ethics commission’s assessment of the matter and asserted that he would continue to fight for small business in Pahrump.

“Some are going to try to stop me from standing up and being the voice of small business,” Blundo had said. “But I am prepared to make the case for government that serves the taxpayer and ensures each small business get the biggest bang for their buck.”

The Pahrump Tourism Advisory Committee apparently took issue with Blundo’s statement and at its most recent meeting, held Nov. 7, the committee voted to approve a letter responding to the commissioner’s comments.

First noting that the views and opinions expressed in the letter were those of the committee chairman, James Horton and the committee, and not necessarily those of the town of Pahrump, Nye County or any other agency, the letter read, “In short, Commissioner Blundo seems to demonstrate very little remorse by virtue of his published statements for the events that resulted in the complaints against him.

“Further, his portrayal of PTAC (Pahrump Tourism Advisory Committee) and the role it plays in the community is incorrect and misleading, either attributable to a lack of due diligence familiarity with PTAC on his part or due to a distortion of the facts to soften his culpability,” the letter continues. “Whatever the reason may be, PTAC takes exception to the facts and circumstances as he presents them.”

The letter goes on to proclaim that the duty of the committee is not to promote business, be it large or small, in the town of Pahrump. Rather, the committee’s bylaws state its mission is to, “… promote the town of Pahrump as a destination throughout the year.” In doing this, the committee focuses primarily on the town’s unique attractions, amenities and characteristics, the letter states.

“If I want to convince you to visit our town, for example, telling you that we have ABC Diner and XYZ Diner is not likely to get you on the road to making reservations. Telling you about our abundant off-road trails, unique wineries and close proximity to Death Valley National Park, on the other hand, may compel you to visit,” the committee’s response declares. “Our job is to encourage tourist visitation and we focus on any events and attractions that may realize that goal. None of that means we do not support Pahrump local small business, as commissioner Blundo portrays it.”

The letter also honed in on Blundo’s use of the word “taxpayer”, stating that neither the committee’s budget nor the town tourism department’s budget is provided by traditional tax dollars such as property tax or sale tax. The funds for tourism, “… come solely from room tax, which is paid by tourists staying in the town’s hotels and RV parks … It is paid exclusively by tourists and used exclusively to promote tourism in Pahrump.”

Blundo was by no means happy with the response issued by the tourism committee.

“Rather than devoting an incredible amount of time and effort into offensive and inaccurate personal attacks, perhaps this ‘organization’ should be reminded that its purpose is to promote local tourism, not publishing this ridiculously politicized nonsense,” Blundo asserted when reached for comment.

Pahrump Tourism Advisory Committee Chairman James Horton said the committee is well aware of its purpose and directive to promote local tourism and that the committee felt the letter approved last week was necessary to, “remind him that it’s not something else, as he originally made it seem.” Horton also said the committee feels Blundo’s response to the letter, “further illustrates his lack of remorse or responsibility in this matter.”

The Pahrump Tourism Advisory Committee meets the second Thursday of every other month at 400 N. Highway 160, with the next meeting scheduled to take place in January 2020. Exact dates and meeting agendas can be found at www.pahrumpnv.org by clicking on the “Agendas and Minutes” link.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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