Reno City Councilman Devon Reese (he/him) has been cited by the Nevada Ethics Commission for two of five ethics violations after a complaint was filed. (see below)
When not serving as an At-Large councilman, Vice Mayor Reese is a practicing attorney with Hutchinson and Steffen which, according to the complaint, violates Nevada ethics statutes when he, as a councilman, entered into negotiating and approving collecting bargaining contracts between the city and the firm’s clients– the Reno Protective Police Association and the supervisory group of Reno Professional Administrative Group.
Scooped by This is Reno:
The complaint, filed in September 2022, alleges Reese did not disclose business relationships with several employee union groups, and he did not recuse himself from contract negotiations with those groups or votes to approve those contracts.
As a result, Reese has to participate in ethics training, develop a process to disclose and abstain from council activities related to his office’s clients, and submit Reno City Council meeting minutes referencing issues or clients related to the law firm for the next two years.
The complaint, which is redacted to remove the complainant’s name, says “Council member Reese participated without disclosing his law firm represented these groups on a vote for the city to obtain outside legal representation to assist in the bargaining process… The Reno Charter requires that six of the seven members vote affirmatively to hire outside legal counsel. With one member in opposition, his [vote] was material to the outcome.”
Reese is also alleged to have participated in contract negotiations during closed door council deliberations and advocated for the interests of his firm’s clients.
“Council member Reese deliberated in closed door sessions during which the public was not able to view his role, nor were meeting minutes adopted, so it is difficult to gauge the input he provided to the city staff negotiating team, but he was present and gave input both on general city positions related to all agreements and to specific terms related to the groups his firm represented,” the complaint alleges.
Reese voted in favor of approving all of the union contracts.
The five ethics laws cited in the complaint include using a government position to favor an entity with which he has a financial interest, participating in those negotiations for which he has a financial interest, insufficiently disclosing his interests in those negotiations or discussions, and not abstaining from the discussions and votes.
Of note, back in December 2022, The Globe had contacted Reno city attorney Karl Hall citing similar ethics violations by Councilman Reese. Hall never responded to our request for comment, which has become the standard, rather than the exception, for elected and unelected city and state officials.
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