Las Vegas Sun

August 31, 2015

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Judicial candidate censured over flier

CARSON CITY — A candidate for District Court judge in Clark County has been publicly censured by the Nevada Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics and Election Practices for being aligned with a political party.

The committee said Ronald Israel, a candidate for district judge in Department 28, failed to ensure that his campaign committee obeyed the non-partisan rules when it published and distributed a rule-breaking Democratic judges flyer.

The complaint was filed by opponent John “Jack” Howard.

The panel said a second complaint filed against Israel was without merit. Howard accused him of breaking the rules by distributing a non-partisan flyer that tied him with other candidates for district judges.

The Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct says a judge or a candidate for judge “shall not engage in political or campaign activity that is inconsistent with the independence, integrity or impartiality of the judiciary.” But if asked, the judicial candidate can disclose his political party.

A one-page document entitled Democratic Judicial Candidates for District Court identified seven candidates for judicial office. David Thomas, campaign manager for Israel, said the document was used at only four Democratic meetings and Israel was never asked for his political party.

The ethics committee said that Israel had changed from Republican to Democrat, but voter registration records did not reflect the switch at the first meeting of the Democratic organization.

Israel, if asked, could have identified his political party.

Israel claimed the rule was unconstitutional and that Howard waited nine months to submit his complaint as a campaign tactic.

The committee rejected his arguments.

On the second complaint, the ethics committee said it had issued a prior opinion that judicial candidates may group themselves into slates or other alliances to conduct their campaigns. But there could be no endorsements among the group.

This was the second opinion issued by the ethics panel in two days. It censured Clark County judicial candidate Joanna Kishner on Monday for making unfair comments about opponent Philip Dabney.

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