Business groups demand ethics probe into Regents after Chancellor’s allegations

Four major business groups and one of Nevada’s largest labor groups issued a letter on Tuesday asking the state ethics committee to investigate the conduct of two Board of Regents leaders.

The move comes following a four-month investigation into allegations made by Chancellor Melody Rose in a hostile work environment complaint that these regents – former board chair Cathy McAdoo and vice- President Patrick Carter – had sought to minimize his influence to justify it. removal from the chancellery.

The Chancellor also alleged widespread discrimination based on her gender, calling the upper tiers of the system a historic “boys club” and that she was unfairly paid less than newly hired male presidents at UNR and UNLV.

She also alleged that board leaders, particularly McAdoo, acted erratically and covertly on COVID mitigation policy, especially once those policies began to include the controversial creation of a COVID vaccine mandate for public colleges and universities in Nevada.

Although the findings made public last week found “insufficient evidence” of any gender discrimination, they noted several possible ethical violations and that some of the circumstances included in the Chancellor’s complaint reflected an “inappropriate work environment”. .

The groups — the Vegas Chamber, the Latin Chamber of Commerce, the Asian Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, the Council for a Better Nevada and the AFL-CIO state — argue that the ethics commission should open its own investigation because the first survey yielded results that are “significant, unacceptable and cannot be ignored.”

“Residents of the State of Nevada deserve a full and impartial investigation into these charges, not an investigation by an outside consultant regularly hired by the Board of Regents to ‘investigate’ the Board of Regents,” the letter said.

Requests for comment from McAdoo and Carter were not immediately returned.

Tuesday’s letter is the latest salvo from a business community that has long feuded with the Regents and had publicly rallied to the embattled Chancellor’s side over the inquiry.

All five groups that signed the letter publicly criticized the Board of Regents and all publicly supported Question 1 of the 2020 ballot, which would have removed the Regents from the Constitution in an effort to create direct legislative control of the education system. superior. .

Although that initiative was narrowly rejected by voters, a new incarnation – SJR7 – could find itself on the ballot again if lawmakers vote to approve the language for a second time in the 2023 legislative session.

The State Ethics Commission is comprised of an eight-member board of directors and professional staff who have the authority to investigate complaints of conduct that violate state ethical standards, with the ability to impose fines for serious violations or to require corrective action if deemed warranted. .

The groups also submitted a public records request for further communications between regents, system staff and the attorney general’s office regarding a closed meeting this month ‘to replace the chairman and vice chairman of the board. , in violation of Nevada’s Revised Statute on Open Meetings Law” — an apparent reference to a decision to put McAdoo and Carter back as directors of the board.

The couple temporarily ceded control of the board in November, handing over the reins to interim executives Carol Del Carlo and Amy Carvalho for two town hall meetings in December and one in January while the investigation continues.

Immediately after the investigation, it was unclear exactly how McAdoo and Carter would resume their duties as board leaders, and whether the board would have to make the change in a public meeting, or if it would happen automatically.

The regents are expected to officially wrap up the investigation into the chancellor’s workplace complaint at a public meeting on Thursday, returning McAdoo and Carter to their positions as chairman and deputy chairman of the board. Attorneys for Nevada’s higher education system did not return requests for comment on the matter.

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