Home>Feature>IVGID Pays $77,000 For Withholding Public Records, Fires Atty. Jason Guinasso

Incline General Improvement District offices. (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe).

IVGID Pays $77,000 For Withholding Public Records, Fires Atty. Jason Guinasso

IVGID argued that use of public records act was a form of harassment

By Megan Barth, October 25, 2022 12:04 pm

As reported by The Globe, the Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID) has a history of withholding documents or denying public records requests. In April, when the Globe filed an open records request for the General Ledger and related documents, we were initially told that the documents requested were confidential or potentially unavailable. After two months, the wrong documents were released, but ultimately provided. Based on the findings within these documents, multiple ethics complaints have been filed.

In total, the complaints allege $693,000 of public funds have been misused by IVGID. However, due to Nevada statute, the investigative file created by the Ethics Committee remains confidential.

Yet, what isn’t confidential are public records, as determined by a judge in the case of Mark Smith, an Incline Village resident. After many years of legal battles (see below) to obtain public records, the judge ruled in his favor resulting in a payment by IVGID of $77,000 to cover attorney fees and costs.

The defense claimed that the documents were protected by attorney-client privilege, contended that Smith’s request for a privilege log was not valid, and ridiculously argued that Smith’s use of the public records act was a form of “harassment.”

As reported by This is Reno:

The Incline Village General Improvement District recently settled a multi-year lawsuit after a judge and special master found IVGID, upon the advice of its attorney, illegally refused to make public thousands of government records.

Mark Smith sued IVGID in 2018 after IVGID’s hired attorney, Jason Guinasso of the Hutchison & Steffen Law firm, denied most of Smith’s public records order.

Smith in 2017 placed an order for emails between Guinasso and IVGID’s then-general manager. Guinasso said that 13,000 pages of emails were confidential due to attorney-client privilege and 304 pages would cost Smith $1 per page to produce.

Both the denial and attempted fees were deemed illegal under the Nevada Public Records Act. Five years later, Smith said he got the records and a settlement for attorney fees.

“The district paid all of my attorney fees ($77,000), produced all of the documents I had requested, and terminated their attorney [Guinasso] who handled the original document request,” he (Mark Smith) said. “I was also advised by the district’s general manager that they are seeking reimbursement for some of their legal fees from said attorney, one-time District 26 Assembly candidate … Guinasso.”

Guinasso, outside of being on the losing end of this lawsuit and his employment by IVGID, is also a Republican who is actively campaigning for Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford.

Ford’s GOP challenger Sigal Chattah told The Globe: “I am appalled at the level of corruption across our state.  It is clear that the people supporting Ford do so because he has protected their corruption. They know, when I am elected, they will be held accountable and to the fullest extent of the law.”

Smith v IVGID Complaint-3


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