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Former Nye commissioner fined $4,500 following COVID-funding ethics probe

The Nevada Commission on Ethics has fined former Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo $4,500 after finding that he failed to disclose a conflict of interest before voting on a countywide measure to award COVID-relief funding to local small business owners amid the pandemic.

Ethics commissioners publicly reprimanded Blundo this month, noting this was the first case in which they had found a public officer or employee had violated Nevada ethic laws in a COVID-related funding scam.

In March, the Nevada Commission on Ethics found 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,” an ethics commission spokesman said.

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, the ethics investigation found 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 investigation.

Contact Editor Brent Schanding at bschanding@pvtimes.com.

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