Undercurrent

Complaint filed against Lombardo for donating Metro helicopter ride to anti-abortion group’s fundraiser

By: - September 28, 2022 7:24 am

At the fundraiser, the ride-along went to a bidder for $1,000, but the complaint alleges there is no evidence Lombardo reimbursed LVMPD’s budget for the cost. (Screengrab from Metro video)

Nevada Democratic Victory, a group working to elect Democratic candidates in Nevada, filed an ethics complaint against Sheriff Joe Lombardo and his campaign, Lombardo for Governor, with the Nevada Chair of Ethics Commission Wednesday morning. 

The complaint focuses on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) donating ride-alongs in the department’s helicopter to an anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy center,” Women’s Resource Medical Centers of Southern Nevada (WRMCSN), at the religious nonprofit’s annual fundraising gala this spring and the exclusive support of WRMCSN in the LVMPD resource pamphlet. 

“In a blatant violation of Nevada’s ethics laws, Sheriff Lombardo has improperly misused official government resources and did so to support a community organization whose political leanings on the issue of abortion align with the Sheriff’s views and beliefs,” Brynn Palmen, the executive director of Nevada Democratic Victory, wrote in the complaint. “It is also clear that this was done for Sheriff Lombardo’s personal interest during his candidacy for Governor of Nevada.

At the fundraiser, the ride-along went to a bidder for $1,000, and according to the complaint an LVMPD spokesperson said all requests and donations for aerial ride-alongs must be approved by the sheriff’s office, but there is no evidence that Lombardo reimbursed LVMPD’s budget for the cost. 

Lombardo attended the gala in May in his role as a candidate for governor and paid over $1,400 to WRMCSN for special events.

Crisis pregnancy centers like WRMCSN are religious-based nonprofits that present themselves as health care clinics and position themselves next to abortion clinics to intercept those seeking abortion services. 

WRMCSN is listed exclusively in the LVMPD resource pamphlet as crisis pregnancy center on page 48, but other nonprofit organizations that offer reproductive and sexual health care like Planned Parenthood or A-Z Women’s Center are not mentioned. 

“It is clear that the Sheriff is inappropriately helping this organization in an effort to curry favor with its members, supporters, and followers to benefit his campaign for Governor,” Palmen wrote. “If permitted under our ethics laws, it would allow public officials to gift items of values (sic) only to organizations that the official aligns with politically.”

This is not the first ethics complaint filed against Lombardo. The Nevada Commission of Ethics scheduled an adjudicatory hearing in May 2023, six months after the mid-term election, for a complaint filed in October 2021 over Lombardo using images of his badge and uniform in campaign materials. 

Lombardo’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

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Camalot Todd
Camalot Todd

An award-winning, investigative and enterprise reporter, Camalot Todd has over seven years experience in print, digital, radio and TV journalism. She covered mental and behavioral health in New York for Spectrum News 1 Buffalo through the national service program, Report For America, where she won the Mental Health Advocates of WNY Advocacy Award in 2020 for her coverage on mental health stigma. She also served as an inaugural member of the Report For America Corps Advisory Board Member, 2021-2022. Previously, she reported on community issues in Las Vegas, including a long-term project on underage sex trafficking, for the Las Vegas Sun and its sister publication, Las Vegas Weekly. For the Sun, she wrote a pathbreaking investigative piece called, “Children on the Cusp: The transition from foster care to adulthood is leaving some behind.” The piece won the Nevada Press Association best investigative story of the year and named Camalot the Best Community Reporter of 2017. She also worked as a reporter for KUNV radio and is a graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Camalot was selected for National Press Foundation Opioid and Addiction Fellow 2021 and led the Syracuse Press Club's Journalism Lab as an educator from 2021-2022.

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