Prominent women depart state government

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Two prominent Nevada women have joined the growing exodus of longtime officials from the Gibbons administration.

Gov. Jim Gibbons is replacing Nevada Gaming Commission member Sue Wagner with Joe Brown, a lobbyist and head of the politically influential law firm Jones Vargas.

Brown’s law firm has some casino business. As a lobbyist, Brown himself does not represent casinos. His current lobbying clients are, Eli Lilly & Company, Merck & Co., DeLuca Liquor & Wine, Medco Health Solutions, and Security Finance Co.

Wagner was appointed by Gov. Bob Miller and retained by Gov. Kenny Guinn. In an interview, Wagner said she was not pushed, she jumped. “Twelve years is enough,” she said.

Brown’s appointment to the commission, together with that of John Moran, set off a debate on whether the commission is becoming weighed down with lawyers. Gibbons’ addition of Brown and Moran puts four lawyers on the five-member panel. Some analysts said the panel is now particularly lacking in expertise in accountancy and corporate finance.

It also now lacks a northern Nevadan. Wagner is a Renoite.

Wagner is a former lieutenant governor of Nevada and Brown was the unsuccessful GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 1986. Moran, son of a Clark County sheriff of the same name, resigned a previous term on the gaming commission to run for lieutenant governor in 2006 but withdrew from the race before the election.

Nevada Adjutant General Cynthia Kirkland, commander of the state’s national guard forces, informed her staff in an email, which quickly leaked, that Gov. Jim Gibbons has informed her she would not be reappointed.

“We have accomplished a great deal in the last four years, and I attribute it all to the steadfast determination and commitment of each one of you,” Kirkland told the recipients of the message. “I have no doubt you will continue to work as hard as always in support of the people of Nevada and the nation.”

Kirkland is an Air Force brigadier general. She was appointed to the post by Gibbons’ predecessor, Kenny Guinn. She is out of state and not available for comment.