INTRO: The State Ethics Commission gets many requests but ends up hearing approximately half a dozen significant ethics complaints a year. Yesterday the State of Nevada's Ethics Commission approved issuance of a list of witnesses to subpoena for hearings for its investigation into mayor Oscar Goodman. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.
PLASKON: Mayor Oscar Goodman accepts gifts all the time according to financial disclosure statements. In 2002 for instance he received 4 leather jackets worth a total of more than 1-thousand dollars and 400 dollars worth of gin. But then there's the 55-thousand dollar Cadillac. Paul Brown of the Progressive Leadership Alliance, a political watchdog group, says that gift goes a little too far.
BROWN: My life experience is that people don't just give you a Cadillac without wanting something in return weather it is access or special treatment. It just raises all kinds of red flags there. It is not the endorsements that I am worried about, it is what these people want from the endorsements that I am worried about."
PLASKON: Bill Flangas was on a Nevada Commission on Ethics panel that reviewed the complaint that such a lavish gift could influence the Mayor.
FLANGAS: Sometime they are on target and sometime they are frivolous as hell. And so consequently the commission has to determine if there is enough credible evidence to push it forward to the commission."
PLASKON: Flangas and the other panel member were split earlier this month, so they sent the complaint on to the full commission to consider. But they weren't split on another ethics complain against the mayor, that there was enough evidence to suggest Goodman had used his office to promote his son's business. That allegation came after the mayor hosted a martini, cigar and snack reception for some 30 mayors in Washington in January - a prime place to promote political products to politicians. The party was sponsored by iPolitics - a business that produces products for politicians and is owned in part by the Mayor's son.
SOUND OF FULL COMMISSION
PLASKON: Yesterday the full State of Nevada Commission on Ethics voted to subpoena the Mayors son, wife, the city manager, public information officer, director of finance, city attorney and a liquor business about that and a 100-thousand dollar liquor endorsement by the mayor. Half of the money went to a private school his wife founded and is president of. The mayor was not available for comment but last year he defended himself to reporters regarding liquor endorsements.
GOODMAN: I did not want to put myself in a position where there would be an appearance of impropriety. I try to do that as a mayor, people say well, how can you do that mayor because you drink all the time . . . well, I'm not a phony, I love to drink."
PLASKON: According to the mayor's press secretary, he expected the subpoenas, will submit his own list of witnesses this Friday. The Mayor is expected to defend himself at a hearing before the Ethics Commission during a two-day hearing May 12 and 13 in Las Vegas.
Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR
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