Leo and Melissa Blundo’s budding political partnership is rocking Nye County these days.
Leo became vice chairman of the Nye County Commission, where he emerged as the most vocal critic of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s mask mandates and vaccination rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also lobbied to sell the county’s empty Pahrump Medical Center and seems to have particularly enjoyed the controversial nonprofit Silver State Health Services.
As co-founder of the No Mask Nevada PAC, Melissa Blundo led a parade of critics of the mask mandate, and to hear her say it, wearing a piece of cloth over her face to help slow the spread of COVID was tantamount to shred the American Constitution. She’s mounting a main challenge against fellow Republican and incumbent Assemblyman Gregory Hafen II in a district where you just can’t be conservative enough.
In his campaign launch announcement, Commissioner Blundo enthused: “We will continue to be local, knocking on doors, engaging and, above all, listening to people. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, despite what the out-of-touch liberal elites say.
He also reminded his constituents that he had “withstood a blistering series of attacks on his family and his business; and fake news planted by his political opponents.
It’s not all self-promotion and defense of the little guy. Commissioner Blundo is also defending himself before the Nevada Ethics Commission. While details of the investigations are confidential, the complaints are believed to relate to Blundo’s handling of issues involving COVID-19 relief funding that have been before the county council since 2020.
Although Blundo might call it fake news, in a removal order signed Feb. 24, a state ethics review board unanimously concluded that there is enough credible evidence to support “a determination that ‘there is good and sufficient cause’ for the commission to issue an opinion on five alleged violations of state law.
Blundo’s ethical entanglement, which appears to include multiple complaints, continues into another year and seems far from over.
Since no one wins an election on charm alone, the two Blundos have been busy fundraising. For his part, the commissioner sang in his campaign kickoff ad about raising $75,054 in 2021, with $94,388 raised since his 2018 election, “the most ever raised in Nye County history.” .
A few of their generous contributors caught my eye when I read the 2021 campaign candidates’ contributions and expense reports.
What isn’t fake news is the substantial support they’ve received from outraged medical provider Silver State Health Services, which is being investigated by the US Department of Health and Human Services. and which targets a vacant county medical facility set to go up for auction later this year. Former Silver State officers haven’t slept buying two Teslas for personal use without a vote from the board. A former board member has been convicted of Medicaid fraud.
A source close to the company’s current executives reports that one of its associates ordered an appraisal of the property and conducted a tour of the facility. They look serious and they have a big supporter in the person of the commissioner.
Silver State contributed $10,000 to Commissioner Blundo’s campaign, with another $2,500 donated by affiliate 7373 Peak LLC.
Then there is the generosity the commissioner received from May Joan Liu, who plans to enter the lucrative cannabis growing business in the Amargosa Valley. She personally contributed $5,000 and another $5,000 through her First Dragon Holdings LLC to the commissioner’s campaign.
Melissa Blundo received similar generosity from Silver State and Liu during her Assembly campaign.
Liu’s Natural Green Goodness, LLC applied in December 2020 for a Special Use Permit for a cultivation and production project which, if permitted, will be located at 5356 W. Amargosa Farm Road.
That’s a far cry from Vancouver, British Columbia, where Liu was caught up in a sweeping securities investigation linked to the cannabis industry and high-risk stocks listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange. Liu was on the list of directors of the WeeMedical Dispensary Society, which had made headlines for operating illegally. Canadian press accounts describe her as “an infamous Vancouver Stock Exchange penny stock player.” Three companies she was affiliated with had their business operations halted or suspended, according to published reports.
In 2017, Vice featured Liu in his dismantling of the underside of the cannabis trade north of the border under the title “Inside the Dark World of a Canadian Chain of Illegal Weed Dispensaries.”
I’ll let someone else debate whether the self-proclaimed friend of the little guy from the Nye County Commission should make those contributions.
John L. Smith is a longtime author and columnist. He was born in Henderson, and his family’s roots in Nevada date back to 1881. His stories have appeared in Time, Readers Digest, The Daily Beast, Reuters, Ruralite, and Desert Companion, among others. He also offers weekly commentary on Nevada public radio station KNPR.