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Ruling: Former Nye County commissioner benefited from his vote to increase pandemic-relief funds

The Nevada State Ethics Commission has found that former Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo failed to disclose his financial interests ahead of his vote more than two years ago to increase pandemic-relief funds to local small business owners.

It was a violation of Nevada’s ethics laws, argued prosecutors, who told a panel of state ethics commissioners on Monday that Blundo personally benefited from about $35,000 more in aid after he joined other county commissioners in a Nov. 10, 2022 vote to increase the amount of federal CARES Act funding made available to struggling entrepreneurs during the pandemic.

“Mr. Blundo voted in favor of the amendments to Nye County’s CARES Act policy, which had the direct effect of increasing the amount of funds that his business received,” the prosecutor argued.

Blundo owns Carmelo’s Bistro in Pahrump. Although the former commissioner publicly disclosed that he held a liquor license at the time of his questionable vote, and acknowledged that he had applied for COVID-relief programs for which the board of commissioners was setting policies, prosecutors argued that Blundo misrepresented his direct financial interests in those aid programs and failed to mention how he might personally benefit from them.

Some county workers quit because Blundo used his public position to pressure and intimidate them to expedite his applications for pandemic-relief funding, according to the ethics prosecutor.

The Nevada State Ethics Commission issued a summary judgment against Blundo on Monday after finding sufficient evidence of some of the claims against him. The ethics panel is expected to hear additional claims against Blundo at an April 19 hearing.

Past ethics claims

In August 2019, a review panel for the Nevada Commission on Ethics found “credible evidence” that Blundo violated state ethics rules governing the use of his position to seek favors and services for himself or his business while he was running for the District 4 Congressional seat. The claims against him were settled under a deferral agreement and were not escalated to a state ethics panel.

Blundo lost his re-election bid for Nye County commissioner in the June 2022 primary.

This is a developing story.

Contact Editor Brent Schanding@bschanding@pvtimes.com.

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