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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Nevada ethics commission OK's Mulroy's appointment to Wynn Resorts board

19 October 2015

Pat Mulroy's appointment to the Wynn Resorts Ltd. board has been approved by the Nevada Commission on Ethics, allowing the now-former Gaming Commission member to avoid the state's one-year cooling off period for casino regulators, her attorney said Friday.

Mulroy's resignation from the Gaming Commission went to Gov. Brian Sandoval Thursday morning. Wynn Resorts that afternoon announced she and Clark T. "Sandy" Randt, Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to China, had been added to the company's board.

Las Vegas attorney Peter Bernhard, a former Gaming Commission chairman, said that on Aug. 31 Mulroy asked the Ethics Commission for an opinion on the move.

In that request Mulroy agreed to be "walled off" from any gaming matters involving Wynn Resorts in Nevada after taking a seat on the casino company's board. She will also avoid any issues that Wynn Resorts would have with the Gaming Commission, which she joined as a Sandoval appointee in July 2014.

Mulroy also noted that during her 14 months with the Gaming Commission she never dealt with any matters directly involving Wynn Resorts.

"No substantive Wynn matters came before her on the Commission that might give rise to a quid-pro-quo concern," Bernhard said.

The one-year cooling off period, spelled out in state law, prohibits a former Nevada gaming regulator from accepting employment with a licensed gaming company for one year.

Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver said Mulroy is "an independent member of the board of directors," not an employee.

As a part-time Gaming Commission member, Mulroy was paid $40,000 per year. As a Wynn board member, she will "participate in the standard compensation arrangements for the company's non-employee directors," according a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the Wynn's most recent proxy statement, non-employee board members earned $60,000 per year for service, as well as monthly fees of between $1,000 and $2,500 for various committee participation, as well as stock options. Last year, the seven Wynn board members averaged more than $349,000 in compensation.

Mulroy, the former Southern Nevada Water Authority chief, spent 30 years in regional government. In a statement, Wynn Resorts said it expects to rely on her expertise on water issues.

Bernhard said the Ethics commission voted 4-2 to allow Mulroy to join the Wynn board. He said the opinion had not been published. The Ethics Commission was closed Friday and a representative couldn't be reached for comment.

"I expect a narrowly-written opinion citing her unique water experience, her short tenure in gaming, her required independence from management by SEC and NASDAQ regulations, and the restrictions on her Wynn role until the cooling off period would have expired," Bernhard said.

Sandoval appointed Mulroy to the commission when Tony Alamo Jr. was elevated to chairman following Bernhard's retirement. She served the final 10 months of Bernhard's term and was appointed to new four-year term in April.

Mulroy's resignation letter to Sandoval doesn't mention Wynn, saying only that "an opportunity has been presented to me that requires my resignation."

Mulroy said she "weighed this decision very carefully and before even exploring this in any length I sought out the guidance of the Nevada Ethics Commission."

Her appointment gives the company's Wynn Resorts a lone female member. Former Wynn board member Elaine Wynn complained about the panel being all-male during an unsuccessful proxy fight in April.

Mulroy is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Water of the World Economic Forum. She served as general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority from 1993 to 2014 and was the general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District from 1989 to 2014.