Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross Found to Have Violated State Ethics Laws

CARSON CITY – Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross was found today to have violated state ethics laws for failing to disclose his labor union interests and abstain from voting for a new city hall project at two different meetings in December 2008 and February 2009.

But Ross was not found to have made willful violations of state law by failing to disclose his conflict at a December 2008 city council meeting and for his votes for the project at the December 2008 and February 2009 council meetings because he relied on the advice of City Attorney Brad Jerbic.

No ethics violations were found for a November 2008 failure to disclose and vote Ross made on the project.

Ross began abstaining on the project after the February 2009 vote.

If the violations had been found to be willful, Ross faced as much as $40,000 in fines and the potential for removal from office.

The 4-1 Ethics Commission votes for the three violations came because of a finding that Ross had a conflict because the union group he works for as secretary-treasurer, the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council, was negotiating with the developer of the proposed project.

There was some conflicting testimony over the course of the two-day hearing as to when the construction union consortium actually entered into negotiations with the developer for the project.

Ethics Commission member Mark Hutchison made the motions to find the violations, but first said to Ross: “I think you are an honest and upright and honorable public servant.”

By not finding willful violations, the votes by the commission will serve as guidance to Ross at future council meetings.

Commissioner Erik Beyer told Ross, “disclose, disclose, disclose.”

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