Panel says Fernley councilman Don Parsons violated ethics law, having city inspectors condemn property for his "other" employer benefit.
In April 2010, the Nevada Commission on Ethics received three Requests for Opinion
("RFO") regarding the conduct of Don Parsons, City of Fernley City Councilman, alleging
certain violations of the Ethics in Government Law set forth in NRS 281 A.
Commission staff
presented the Investigatory Panel with the allegations in the RFO that Parsons violated:
1. NRS 281 AAOO(1) by seeking or accepting a favor that would tend improperly to
influence a reasonable person to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of the
public officer or employee's duties;
2. NRS 281 A.400(2) by using his pOSitIOn in government to secure unwarranted
benefits or preferences for the benefit of his commitment in a private capacity to the
interests of his employer;
3. NRS 281AAOO(7) by using government resources for personal purposes; and
4. NRS 281AAOO(9) by seeking to benefit his personal or financial interest through
the influence of a subordinate.
At the time of the alleged conduct, Parsons was (and still is) a member of the Fernley
City Council, and as such, was a public officer as defined in NRS 281A.160. The Commission
has jurisdiction over the conduct of public officers pursuant to NRS 281A.280. Therefore, the
Commission has jurisdiction in this matter.
The Investigatory Panel found that just and sufficient cause exists for the
Commission to render an opinion regarding each of the remaining allegations in the Request for
Opinion. The panel found that a minimum level of reliable and competent evidence exists to
support a reasonable belief that the matters alleged are true. Therefore, the Investigatory Panel
refers the remainin2 allegations to the Commission for a hearing and the rendering of an
opinion whether:
1. On April 9,2010, Parsons violated NRS 281A. 400(1) by seeking a favor when he
asked the City of Fernley Building Inspectors Jeff Ball and Ron Wise to condemn the
building at 215 Lyon Drive so he might negotiate a lower purchase price for his
employer.
2. On April 9, 2010, Parsons violated NRS 281A. 400(2) by securing an
unwarranted privilege or exemption from the City of Fernley Building Inspectors Ball
and Wise, when he asked them to inspect the building at 215 Lyon Drive for a private
potential buyer.
3. On April 9, 2010, Parsons violated NRS 281A. 400(7) by using government time
for an inspection of a privately owned building.
4. On April 9, 2010, Parsons violated NRS 281A. 400(9) by attempting to influence
his subordinates, City Inspectors Ball and Wise, when he asked them to condemn the
building at 215 Lyon Drive so he might negotiate a lower purchase price for his
employer.
The Nevada Commission on Ethics has found that Don Parsons, a Fernley City Council member violated state ethics laws when he asked city inspectors to check a building his employer wanted to buy.
But a stipulation the commission entered into with Councilman Don Parsons says he wasn't intentionally trying to seek favors or pressure his subordinates.
Two city building inspectors say Parsons asked them to inspect and then condemn a building his private employer, Hydrotech, wanted to buy. The commission said this week that other city employees didn't remember that request.
City inspectors sometimes perform courtesy inspections for the public, but Parsons acknowledged a city inspector might have felt pressure to accommodate his schedule.
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