Nye County residents could use some insurance from game-playing politicians – The Nevada Independent

Let’s start with the good news. It will not take long. There is little of it in Nye County government today.

At the Oct. 4 Nye County Commission meeting, embattled commissioner Leo Blundo was poised to unveil a costly plan to offer lifetime health insurance coverage to former commissioners. It’s not for nothing that disastrous freshman Blundo is on the verge of becoming a former commissioner after losing in the June primary.

You’d think he had more pressing business to attend to. Blundo is facing criminal charges following an incident at his home earlier this year. But those who’ve followed his tumultuous tenure now know that doing business is what this guy is all about.

Luckily for the county’s taxpayers, his lunatic plan was scrapped from the agenda before more embarrassment ensued.

That’s it. There’s your good news. From here the sky becomes cloudy.

In the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, where good help seems to be in short supply, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly is running for re-election amid an FBI investigation within the department. The FBI served a search warrant at the sheriff’s office in August. Although the warrant remains sealed, the review journal reported that the investigation was looking into possible wrongdoing by Nye Capt. David Boruchowitz concentrated.

In a Nye-worthy twist, Boruchowitz himself confirmed the FBI’s search warrant in a video posted to social media.

In recent years, Boruchowitz has been involved in several controversies, including the 2019 arrest of a Valley Electric Association CEO on charges that were later dismissed. In the heat of an ongoing sheriff’s race, Boruchowitz filed a criminal complaint against two state deputies — who happen to be supporting Wehrly’s opponents — accusing them of committing a crime with a computer after they blocked it from a Facebook page. Nye County Attorneys have declined to prosecute.

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But power struggles are not new to Pahrump. If you scratch the surface, you’ll find many residents, some of whom admit their prejudice against the sheriff’s opponent and complain about the unequal application of the law in Nye County.

Other political bushfires receive little news coverage but serve to illustrate what some political scientists would describe as systemic dysfunction in government. From heated discussions in libraries and school boards to the latest head-scratching issuance of the county’s lucrative cannabis permits, you don’t have to look far to find them.

But by far the most troubling upheaval in Nye County is the transformation of the clerk’s office into a partisan outpost, fully debunking Donald Trump’s big lie about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election and the inherent dangers of relying on voting machines seems to accept the ballot tab. As the November general election drew near, the borough’s decision to appoint Mark Kampf, an outspoken critic of the Dominion Voting Systems machines, and to endorse his flawed plan to hand-count ballots hasn’t just been a scrutiny of national news reports pulled, but an emergency petition to stop it was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

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In another curveball from Nye County on Wednesday, Fifth Circuit Judge Kimberly Wanker dismissed the summary action, citing her frustration that it was unreasonable that she would be expected to review a lengthy county commission meeting in which the hand count plan was manplained.

The ACLU was scheduled to file a new petition in the Nevada Supreme Court on Friday to block the hand-counting maneuver based on false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election and multiple conjectures about the security of widely used voting machines.

The ACLU’s argument, says Executive Director Athar Haseebullah, is that the county’s own plan was rushed through and was based on exposed conspiracies about the safety of the machines. The organization also argues that the county’s strict new signature verification violates state law by allowing the clerk to ask for an ID if it decides a voter’s signature doesn’t match. As ACLU attorney Sadmira Ramic put it in a statement, “Nye County’s proposed procedure is a hasty attempt to circumvent democracy” that threatens to make it more difficult for voters to cast secure ballots.

Kampf was appointed to replace longtime county clerk Sandra “Sam” Merlino, who ran Nye County’s elections without scandal or partisanship for two decades. In short, without accepting any of the fallacious conspiracies that have boiled up like poisonous swamp gas thanks to Trump’s big lie. Nye County has more than 30,000 active registered voters, most of them Republicans hand-counting fights and the like.

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Merlino withdrew early, expressing frustration at what the district commission was willing to do on behalf of prosecuting the snake oil sellers of vote-fraud candidate GOP secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant. Kampf tapped his hands early and nodded approvingly to Marchant’s merry men without a shred of evidence.

But this isn’t about evidence, and damn it facts. The point here is to arm voting across the country at the state and county levels. As Marchant recently admitted during a Trump rally for Nevada Republicans in Minden, “If my coalition of foreign secretary candidates is elected across the country, we will fix the whole country, and President Trump will be president again in 2024.”

Nye County remains a big-lie Petri dish, with no insurance policy protecting its residents from their government.

John L. Smith is an author and longtime columnist. He was born in Henderson and his Nevada family roots date back to 1881. His stories have appeared in Time, Readers Digest, The Daily Beast, Reuters, Ruralite, and Desert Companion, among others. He also provides weekly commentary on Nevada public radio station KNPR.


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