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Senator Scott Hammond (R - District 18), Co-Minority Whip. (Photo: State of Nevada)

Sen. Scott Hammond Calls for Audit of Coronavirus Relief Aid

Alleges that some spending may have been ‘corrupted by politics’

By Megan Barth, June 23, 2022 6:04 pm

Nevada State Senator Scott Hammond (R-SD18) submitted a letter to the State Legislative Commission requesting an audit of all state spending made under the governor’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, alleging that some spending may have been “corrupted by politics.”

The letter, in part, reads:

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) money used to secure testing for Nevadans was misused, misspent, and misappropriated by an ethically challenged and incompetent business with political connection.  Nevadans deserve nothing less than a full investigation and accounting of these funds.

Nevadans distrust government at every level. This most recent revelation of political favoritism and corruption has only deepened that mistrust and enlarged the gulf between elected officials and Nevada families. The only responsible thing to do is to request and audit of each and every dollar spent.”

To me, it is clear that this is the least we can do, and anything less would be a dereliction of our duty to the people we serve.

 

 

As reported by The Las Vegas Review Journal:

Hammond was inspired to pen the letter by a ProPublica investigation into a fraudulent COVID testing company that operated in Nevada. That company, Chicago-based Northshore Laboratories, had COVID testing contracts with the University of Nevada, Reno, the Washoe County School District and some operations in Las Vegas, and the tests they provided were faulty. The company’s license was rescinded after a state investigation.

“It was the sum of all fears for a legislator,” Hammond said. “When this broke, your heart stops because we didn’t have control (over the spending).”

Hammond said he believes the company was allowed to operate in the state because of connections to state leaders, including Gov. Steve Sisolak, which allegedly made gaining a license easier. Sisolak’s office denies any knowledge of Northshore’s operations in the state beyond the investigation.

Hammond’s proposed audit is purposefully vague — a new legislative subcommittee would draw up its specific boundaries — but he’s targeting the federal relief money provided to the state in response to COVID-19.

That’s $1.25 billion in funding sent to the state via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, $836 million of which went directly into state coffers. Specifically, the audit would cover all spending of COVID relief funds under the governor’s emergency order, which ran from March 2020 until last month.

“There is a lot of money that went into the state that we, as legislators, did not have oversight over,” Hammond said.

“This isn’t political at all. I’m not on the ballot,” he said. “This is just something the Legislature needs to do, have oversight over the executive.”

Hammond’s proposal will be considered at the commission’s next meeting in August.
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