Judge approves tax-funded campaigns

A state court judge in Las Vegas rejected a request for a permanent injunction against the use of public facilities for political purposes.

The Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana (CRCM) asked for the injunction after a series of incidents in which public officials used tax-funded resources to campaign against Ballot Question 7, culminating in Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick calling a news conference in his county courthouse offices to denounce the measure.

Nevada District Judge David Wall rejected the application, but it is uncertain on what basis he made his decision. Gammick later issued a news release that said Wall “ruled that Mr. Gammick’s First Amendment right of freedom of speech would be violated if he were not allowed to state his position on controversial issues that affect his office and are important to his constituents.”

However, there was no independent verification that such was the basis of the ruling, and the application for the injunction did not seek to curb speech rights, only the use of public resources when those speech rights were being exercised for election purposes (www.RegulateMarijuana.org/home/pdf/CRCM_petition_for_writ.pdf). CRCM sought the injunction not just against Gammick but also against Clark County commissioners, the members of the Nevada Board of Regents, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Stan Olsen.

Clark County court spokesperson Michael Sommermeyer said Wall delivered his decision verbally, and a telephone number listed on the Clark County Web site for Wall’s office is disconnected.

Gammick had previously responded to the CRCM court action by saying, “Yeah, it’s all bullshit. That’s not what the law says.” He contended that the statutory restriction applies only to the use of public funds for political advertising ("Tax-funded campaigns,” Oct. 12).

Nevada Revised Statute 261.554 says that “a public officer or employee shall not request or otherwise cause a governmental entity to incur an expense or make an expenditure to support or oppose: (a) A ballot question. (b) A candidate.”