Earlier this week, a Nevada judge dismissed a criminal indictment against the Lt. Governor and his Chief of Staff. Yesterday, the Attorney General announcedthat the dismissal would not be appealed and no further proceedings would be pursued. The charges stemmed from allegations that the Lt. Governor, at the time he was Treasurer for Nevada, failed to comply with state budget laws in the marketing of a college savings program.
Throughout the proceedings, many observers questioned the viability of the indictment as no money was missing and there were reasonable differences of opinion as to how the budget for the college savings program should be approved. The fact that the indictment was dismissed on the grounds that it was insufficient on its face and failed to satisfy due process highlights the difficulty a prosecutor faces when attempting to criminalize actions taken under the state budget act, particularly when the Legislature has not clearly defined how budgets for programs like the college savings program should be set and approved. It will be interesting to see if the Nevada Legislature takes action at its next regular session in 2011 to address budget rules for programs, like the college savings program, that are outside the purview of typical general fund budgets.