Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2022

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AG still studying whether state should honor Clark County’s demand for return of looted money

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said her office is still researching whether state government should honor Clark County's request for the return of $102.5 million in local tax funds taken by the state in recent years.

"We're just finishing the legal analysis," Masto said today.

Masto declined to say whether her office will find that Clark County has a legitimate claim on the money. She said she will share her office's conclusions with Gov. Brian Sandoval, who requested an AG opinion on the matter. The opinion might include legal strategy that the state wants to keep secret, she said, because a court fight over the funds could ensue.

On July 6, the county issued a demand letter claiming the 2009 Legislature illegally diverted money and placed the cost of some services on the county. The demand followed a Nevada Supreme Court ruling finding the Legislature wrongfully seized $62 million from the Clean Water Coalition in Las Vegas to balance the state budget. The court said, in effect, that state government picking and choosing among pots of local money is unconstitutional -- such takings must be the same for all local governments across the state.

The demand letter to the state Board of Examiners of which Sandoval is chairman and Masto is one of the three members.

Masto said the issue will come before the Board of Examiners at a public meeting.

Sandoval said today he has not talked with the attorney general's office about the matter, but said there is some question about the statute of limitations on requesting the money be returned.

A demand letter sent to the treasurer's office was denied. The office said it didn't have authority to refund that money.

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