Having dodged and refused to answer whether she had ever been employed by Wolf Creek golf course, documents recently obtained by Mesquite Local News show that Mesquite City Councilwoman Sandra Ramaker had a paid consulting contract with the golf course that began Feb. 1, 2017.
The documents were released through public information requests and show that Ramaker was paid $500 a month by Wolf Creek golf course as an independent contractor.
According to the contract document, “It is agreed upon by both parties that the Contractor [Ramaker] will at minimum attend community meetings & functions such as VVWD, City Council and Chamber meetings, and any other function that contractor or company [Wolf Creek golf course] feel it is important to attend. These meetings will be recorded and a written report of attendees, attitudes and contractor opinions will be prepared and documented. Reports and recordings are to be submitted on a timely basis within a week of the meetings unless an extension is requested due to extenuating circumstances.” (emphasis added)
Other documents show that Ramaker was paid $5,500 in 2017 and $5,450 in 2018 by Paradise Canyon LLC, doing business as Wolf Creek golf club.
At the Jan. 22 City Council meeting, Ramaker proposed a resolution changing the composition of the elected Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) Board of Directors even though the city has no legal or political control over the district. Ramaker contended that it was good for the general population of Mesquite.
Ramaker took her elected seat on the council Nov. 27, 2018.
Ben Davis, VVWD Board vice-president and Mesquite representative, challenged Ramaker’s assertion saying that it would primarily serve “her long-time political donor, Wolf Creek golf course. When she lost re-election to the VVWD Board [in 2016] that took away their voice on the board. This is a very transparent move to support a single entity in this town.”
Had the council supported the resolution it would have been sent to the Nevada state legislature for further consideration of amending the state law governing the district’s board so that four elected officials would be from Mesquite and one from Bunkerville. Currently, the board has three elected representatives for Mesquite and two for Bunkerville.
The agenda item died for lack of a second on Ramaker’s motion to approve it and therefore no action was taken. The VVWD board has continually rejected the change of representation over the years.
Ramaker served as an elected Mesquite representative on the VVWD Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016.
During the meeting, Councilwoman Annie Black said “I find it curious about the timing and the person bringing the resolution [referring to Ramaker] and that person’s relationship with Wolf Creek. I would be remiss if I didn’t point that out. I find it curious that Wolf Creek tried to get this done in 2013 and that there’s an ongoing battle between Wolf Creek and the water district.”
Black pointed out, and official campaign documents show, that Ramaker has received nearly $9,000 in campaign contributions for various elections from Wolf Creek.
Black asked Ramaker who asked her to bring the resolution and “are you or anyone close to you or have you ever been on the payroll for Wolf Creek (sic)?”
Ramaker gave no public reply to Black’s questions.
Shortly after the city council meeting, Ramaker wrote a letter to the editor of Mesquite Local News, saying “Unfortunately, one member of the Council and a member of the water board felt that I was raising the issue as a pawn or employee of the Wolf Creek golf course. I am not an employee of Wolf Creek. My husband and I live on our retirement savings.”
She did not say in her letter if her 2017 contract with Wolf Creek was still in effect.
Ramaker’s Nevada Financial Disclosure Statements (FDS) filed with the Secretary of State show that in 2016 she listed three sources of income: Social Security by her, Social Security by her husband, and PERS Retirement.
Her FDSs filed in 2017 and 2018 show four sources of income: her and her husband’s social security, PERS Retirement, and “self employed.” [emphasis added]
The Mesquite Local News requested a private meeting with Councilwoman Ramaker and City Attorney Bob Sweetin since the city is involved in a lawsuit between Wolf Creek and the water district.
Ramaker refused to meet with the Mesquite Local News to answer questions or clarify her current contract situation with Wolf Creek.
Sweetin said that Ramaker has been recused from all litigation sessions between him and the city council regarding legal issues the city has with the lawsuit.
A multitude of documents the MLN received show that indeed she filed reports with Wolf Creek and presumably its owner Cory Clemetson regarding meetings of the VVWD Board of Directors, city council, Chamber of Commerce, and city manager informal citizen coffees.
Documents included copies of emails sent from Wolf Creek’s attorney to the water district attorney regarding the pending lawsuit between the two entities. A Jan 12, 2018 email shows that Clemetson forwarded the email to Ramaker with the annotation “FYI.”
Other emails show that Wolf Creek’s attorney drafted an affidavit for her that she submitted against the
VVWD in an ongoing lawsuit. An email sent May 16, 2018 from the attorney to Ramaker with a copy to Clemetson said, “As we have previously discussed, attached find a draft affidavit for your view and consideration. The information included in the affidavit was derived from our conversations and publicly available information.”
Ramaker’s reports included numerous references about elected officials’ attitudes and tone of voice. Of a May 2017 water board meeting, she wrote “Ben spoke of chicanery and believes this is what was used instead of coming to this board” referencing Ben Davis, VP of the VVWD Board.
Other notations said things like “No mention of lawsuit. Did have litigation” and “had litigation” about water district board meetings. Litigation sessions are frequently held by elected officials and attorneys behind closed doors to discuss sensitive legal issues.”
She often highlighted entries in her reports that ostensibly directly affected the golf course. Regarding a June 13, 2017 special meeting about the Mesquite Airport Master Plan she wrote, “I have a copy of the handout for you given out today there is a full master plan with great reading in the city agenda for your reading enjoyment.”
Ramaker filed reports with Wolf Creek about meetings all through the 2018 election campaign never disclosing to the public that she was being paid to attend. While it was not illegal according to campaign finance laws, it left the public without an essential fact that could have impacted their vote and influenced the election outcome.
It remains unclear at this point what the exact relationship is between elected City Councilwoman Ramaker and a golf course she contracted with that is engaged in lawsuits with the water district and the city council, both of whom she was elected to.