The Nevada Ethics Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to accept a stipulated agreement settling the ethics complaint filed against Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro.
The complaint was filed by former Storey County deputy Shawn Mahan who was suspended during his campaign to replace Antinoro as sheriff and then fired after losing the election.
He filed the ethics complaint saying Antinoro unlawfully used his position to restrict Mahan’s campaign activities by barring him from participating in an event at Infinity Hospice in Reno.
According to Antinoro’s lawyer Brent Kolvet, that order was issued citing existing sheriff’s department regulations governing outside activities by members of the department. But Mahan charged Antinoro infringed on his first amendment rights and “obtained an unwarranted benefit” from barring his attendance at the event, raising at least the appearance of impropriety.
“This is in the heat of the battle situation,” said commission member Tim Cory in moving to accept the stipulated agreement. “I’m willing to recognize things don’t always look as clear when you’re in the trenches.”
The agreement includes a promise by Antinoro to rewrite that policy so its requirements are clear and don’t violate employee rights. Member John Carpenter said he wanted the rewritten regulations submitted to the commission so it can see if that goal is met and chairman Paul Lamboley agreed: “I think it would be helpful to the public and the department to know what the policies are, know what the rules are.”
Antinoro said he would do so.
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