Savvy Gibbons upstages IFC

Geoffrey Lawrence

This morning Governor Gibbons issued a direct challenge to the legislature’s Interim Finance Committee. Weeks ago, Gibbons proposed to create a position in his office that would oversee the disbursement of federal stimulus funds to state and local governments in Nevada. On August 3, the legislative Interim Finance Committee met and voted to allocate $257,000 in funds to create that position in Democratic State Controller Kim Wallin’s office instead. IFC members were quoted as saying that the change “would provide checks and balances to ensure funds were spent as the federal government intended” – apparently implying that the governor would use the funds for something other than what they are intended for.

Today Gibbons fired back by issuing an Executive Order creating the position within his office as he originally intended. The following is from his press release:

I made it clear in earlier statements that I felt the actions of the Interim Finance Committee were inappropriate. I have decided that rather than wasting the taxpayer’s money by filing a legal challenge against the IFC, Nevadans will be better served by me taking immediate steps to get the whole job done right. I will leave it to the Nevada Legislature to determine if they wish to waste taxpayer dollars in an effort to usurp my Constitutional responsibilities. Doing so will cause needless delay in the distribution of federal stimulus funds to the Nevada citizens who need help now.

At the press conference, Gibbons challenged lawmakers on the IFC saying, “Let them sue me.” Legislators appear to be backing away from the challenge. Assemblywoman Debbie Smith was quoted today saying, “We don’t want to be in court. We don’t need to sue each other. We need to get these funds to the people who need them.”

That IFC members would not want to challenge the constitutionality of Gibbons’ move in open court is understandable, given the highly questionable constitutionality of the IFC itself. Any challenge from IFC members could be met with a counter-suit from the governor’s office regarding the legal status of the IFC. In all likelihood, this would result in a legal ruling demanding the dissolution of the IFC – something the elite legislators who compose the committee would not want to see.

Looks like Gibbons played the big hand and everyone else is folding.

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.