State Sen. Scott Hammond made headlines last week by calling for an audit of every federal COVID relief dollar spent in the state from mid-March 2020 to mid-May 2022, of which Nevada received billions.
This is not out of the blue: just last month a shocking revelation broke that a politically connected company, fast-tracked at behest of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Chief of Staff Yvanna Cancela, received contracts worth millions of dollars for what turned out to be faulty COVID tests.
A ProPublica investigation revealed Chicago-based Northshore Laboratories, which had COVID testing contracts with the University of Nevada-Reno, the Washoe County School District and some operations in Las Vegas, provided the community with faulty PCR tests that were missing positive cases 96 percent of the time.
Nevada has always had a hard time with transparency and openness. Despite the recent successes by the Nevada Open Government Coalition (of which Nevada Policy is a member), our open records laws have historically been weak, and there are an ever-growing number of holes.
The most egregious example came in 2016 when the Nevada State Legislature, with the support of bureaucrats at the Legislative Counsel Bureau, told us with a straight face that … it doesn’t consider itself a “government entity.” How do you reckon that?
This lack of sunshine is why we joined Sen. Hammond in calling for a full audit into:
- How the billions of dollars Nevada received were spent;
- The process by which money was awarded; and
- The connection between recipients and grantors.
As the late P.J. O’Rourke noted, it is delusional to think government wastes so much money just through “inefficiency and sloth,” but instead “enormous effort and elaborate planning” is required based just on the sheer volume.
Sadly, we aren’t alone in dealing with cases like Northshore. There has been large amounts of fraud, misuse and impropriety related to COVID funds and its hasty rollout all over the country. It is in the interest of good governance to root out any here at home to ensure we have the proper safeguards for the next catastrophe.