Shirley Matson Recall Underway

If you live in Nye County, Nevada, particularly in Pahrump, the name Shirley Matson is probably familiar to you. Ms. Matson is the Nye County Tax Assessor. She was elected Assessor of Nye County last November for a four-year term.

According to Doug McMurdo of the Las Vegas Review-Journal Matson on March 11, 2011 e-mailed Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo requesting he investigate the citizenship or work visa status of workers building a new county jail near the Assessor’s office. She wrote her staff and the public

“can plainly see that the construction employees are all Mexican/Latino non-English speaking and I’m getting complaints.”

DeMeo responded telling Matson her comments were blatantly racist and her request unconstitutional.

The Nye County Commissioners called a special meeting on March 25 to address the issue.

Commissioner Joni Eastley said:

“Your racially charged and insensitive comments were wholly inappropriate and volatile and they were sent under the seal of Nye County,” said the longtime commissioner from Tonopah. “Your subsequent statements have served to distract citizens from the real problems of illegal immigration because the focus has shifted. We don’t tolerate racists.”

Commissioner Dan Schinhofen asked Matson whether she could see how her statements might be construed as racially insensitive.

Matson answered it never dawned on her they could have.

Schinhofen replied “Its bigoted to me.”

Former Assessor, Sandy Musselman, is quoted as saying:

“We had Hispanic workers working near us for the 12 years I was assessor, and for the 26 years I worked in the assessor’s office and we never had a complaint in all that time,” said Musselman. “She’s delusional.”

But Matson named Ben Gully, a retired volunteer with the Sheriff’s Office, as a complainant to her. Called to testify at the special hearing Gully denied he complained to Matson or questioned the citizenship of the construction workers.

“I made no complaint at all,” said Gully, explaining that he spoke with Matson on March 11 after ”Mrs. Matson flagged me down (and asked) why were all the Mexicans working over there. She said she was a Tea Party Minuteman. She was excited.”

Matson ran for election partially based on her views of illegal immigrants. She outlined her experiences in San Diego in other emails broadly circulated in Nye County before last fall’s election. In those messages, which resurfaced last week adding fuel to the fire, she calls illegal immigrants locusts that devour the nation’s resources, says pregnant Latinas are the nation’s “greatest enemies” and says “other things the dirty filthy Mexican/Latino illegals do is steal Social Security numbers.”

Another e-mail from Matson said, “These young girls will spread their legs to anyone to get an anchor baby growing in their bellies so they can illegally cross the border and suck up the U.S. citizen tax base resource everywhere they go in the U.S.” [Free Arizona]

I was trying to protect Nye County, explained Matson. “She recounted once working for a San Diego construction company that was fined “millions of dollars” for hiring illegal immigrants,” reported McMurdo, “I wanted to save the county embarrassment,” she said.

The Nye County Commissioners formally reprimanded Matson on a 5-0 vote following the hearing. [Nye County Website]

Matson’s daughter, Brooke Matson, formerly married to an Hispanic man, told the Pahrump Valley Times “In my opinion she is a racist.”

Recall Matson papers were filed July 6, 2011 with the Nye County Clerk by Pahrump resident, Stephanie Lopez. [Pahrump Valley Times] Signatures on the recall petition began July 9, 2011 in front of Romero’s Restaurant in Pahrump. Lopez, organizer of the recall movement, said 3,700 signatures were necessary for a successful recall, but 5,000 are being sought. 50-60 volunteers have expressed their willingness to help the recall. Organization for the recall is being primarily conducted by Lopez on her Facebook page, Positive Pahrump. In a press release Lopez announced:

“Around March 2011, Matson made communications containing racially charged and insensitive comments concerning the immigration status of workers at the County jail construction site, the nature of which were wholly inappropriate and volatile and caused public backlash,’ the press statement says. “She used the county email system under the county seal in her official capacity to make these communications. These communications and other statements to defend her actions have served to distract citizens from addressing the real problems with illegal immigration because the focus has shifted to outrageous generalizations such as those made by her.”

“She was formally reprimanded for negatively impacting the public’s perception of our county. Her actions make her unfit for public office and have eroded the public trust and confidence in her office. Her refusal to accept responsibility for her conduct make this recall necessary to remove her from public service in order to restore dignity to the office and county as a whole,” the statement says.

If any volunteers want to help Lopez and her cause, she can be reached at 775-727-8229 or through Facebook.

Jack Wood

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  • Marla
    July 11, 2011, 9:32 am

    Ms. Matson is entitled to her opinion, however distasteful it might be. However, there is no place in public service for bigotry and discrimination. I think a career change is in order for Ms. Matson.

  • Jack Wood
    July 11, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Well, Maria, I agree Ms. Matson has a right to her opinion. I don’t agree with it. But bigotry and discrimination are widespread in the United States, and Nye County.

    Perhaps the recall movement, if successful, will provide the “career change” for Ms. Matson.

  • Kathy
    July 16, 2011, 7:16 am

    I have yet to see anyone from Nye County come forward and prove all their workers are in the country legally, so I suspect they cannot. Particularly when you are using tax dollars from the public instead of your own funds, you do not have the right to hire illegal workers. I think Nye County should address the allegation instead of creating a big deal over “racism” in hopes no one will question what they are doing.

    • Justin McAffee@Kathy
      July 16, 2011, 9:02 am

      “Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
      I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

      —-Except if they are brown.

      • Kathy@Justin McAffee
        July 16, 2011, 9:53 am

        Not true, Justin. Americans have been very accepting of people of all cultures and races. What we do not accept is people who are coming here in total disregard of our laws and taking our jobs and taking advantage of social programs to which they are not entitled. If there is any racism involved, it is in not requiring “brown” people to follow the same laws everyone else must follow.

        • Jack Wood@Kathy
          July 17, 2011, 11:22 am

          “Not requiring ‘brown’ people to follow the same laws everyone else must follow?”

          That is precisely why distinguishing people as brown is racial profiling.

          The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnicity.

          • Kathy@Jack Wood
            July 17, 2011, 12:30 pm

            I hired a company to work at my home. One of their workers was clearly Mexican, spoke no English, and presented me with a Mexican driver’s license so I could spell his name correctly on the check. That is sufficient evidence for me that he is not in this country legally and I will not do business with that company again. Would it be clearer to you if the man was white, spoke only Russian, and had only a Russian driver’s license?? Don’t use racism as a shield against the illegal use of illegal aliens when Americans are out of work in record numbers.

      • Kathy@Justin McAffee
        July 16, 2011, 10:12 am

        Also, you realize that poem is from the Statue of Liberty, not the governing documents for this country, right?

  • Kathy
    July 17, 2011, 12:38 pm

    This could actually be cleared up quite easily by Nye County. Are your workers here legally?? If they are, you can call Shirley a racist. If they are not, I call her right on the money. Hire Americans, not illegals.

  • Mel Covert
    August 1, 2011, 11:50 pm

    I think that Matson was doing her job.We the American citizens and tax payers should not support ILLEGAL immigrants of any color.Lopez is on a witch hunt

    • Justin McAffee@Mel Covert
      August 2, 2011, 11:26 am

      Oh, so we should INVESTIGATE every hispanic/latino that speaks spanish? That’s just plain racist Mel!

      • Mel Covert@Justin McAffee
        August 2, 2011, 6:27 pm

        I don’t think I said any thing about color or language

        • Justin McAffee@Mel Covert
          August 4, 2011, 12:48 pm

          You did say she was doing her job. If you knew the circumstances (which I assumed, since you were defending her) you’d know that’s the job she was doing — Asking police to investigate workers because they were obviously Hispanic, and speak Spanish. So, therefore, you did say something about color or language by inference.

    • Justin McAffee@Mel Covert
      August 2, 2011, 11:29 am

      NO ONE has a legitimate argument for Ms. Matson’s statements:

      She called illegal immigrants “locusts that devour the nation’s resources,” says pregnant Latinas are the nation’s “greatest enemies” and says “other things the dirty filthy Mexican/Latino illegals do is steal Social Security numbers.”

      • Kathy@Justin McAffee
        August 24, 2011, 7:01 am

        While you may not like what Shirley said, the fact is the greatest number of illegals in this country are Hispanic, primarily from Mexico. Illegals DO devour our resources to which they have no right–look at what we spend on them. There are plenty of instances of people stealing social security numbers, as well.

        • Justin McAffee@Kathy
          August 24, 2011, 11:56 am

          Simply not true. They actually contribute an enormous amount to the community. They work jobs Americans won’t consider, they pay taxes (sales, liquor, gaming, tobacco, even payroll taxes) but do not get all the benefits we get. They certainly can’t draw medicare, medicaid, social security. Prove they aren’t a net gain to society and we’ll talk.

    • Kathy@Mel Covert
      August 24, 2011, 6:59 am

      Nye County should be using e-verify then no one would have to question anything. I have still to hear anyone from Nye County come forward to state they verify citizenship of their employees, so my money is on these guys being illegal. You can’t ignore the obvious just because it points to “people of color.” That’s ridiculous.


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