By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Board of Regents candidate Ron Knecht confirmed today he was let go from his state job with the Public Utilities Commission in March, saying no cause was given despite his request for an explanation.
“I can’t tell you a lot,” he said. “I’m no longer working there.”
Knecht said he does know he was not fired for cause.
“My performance reviews were always outstanding,” he said.
Knecht, who spent more than a decade with the PUC as a senior economist, said the agency does not believe it has to give a reason because he was an at-will employee.
The agency today would say only that Knecht no longer works there.
“They believe they don’t need to give a reason when they terminated someone,” Knecht said. “So there’s not a lot I can tell you because I wasn’t given any reason. I wasn’t given proper notice. I was told I was being terminated on March 23, effective March 27.”
Knecht said his request for a reason for his dismissal has not been responded to by the agency.
Knecht said he is looking both for another position and work as a consultant, and that the development will not affect his race for another six-year term on the Board of Regents overseeing the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Knecht is the second state elected official to leave the PUC in the past several months.
State Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, left his job with the agency in November 2011, just as he was named in a lawsuit alleging a violation of the state constitution’s separation of power clause prohibiting government employees from serving in the Legislature.
Denis said he chose to leave his position as a computer technician to take a job in the private sector and that his decision had nothing to do with the lawsuit.
The Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation filed the lawsuit against the PUC alleging Denis’ position violated the separation of powers clause. The case was dismissed as moot after Denis left the agency, but that decision in on appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Knecht said his termination came shortly after he filed for another term on the Board of Regents on March 12. He had submitted paperwork to agency officials informing them of his intention to run for the nonpartisan post, which was accepted.