Shirley Matson, a county assessor in central Nevada’s Nye County, was reprimanded last Friday for blasting out “blatantly racist” emails to the local sheriff asking him to investigate the citizenship status of workers building a new county jail. According to county commissioners, Matson violated the county’s personal conduct policy.
In her correspondence to the sheriff, Matson wrote that her staff and the public “can plainly see that the construction employees are all Mexican/Latino non-English speaking and I’m getting complaints.” Matson went on to say, “When I worked for Pardee Homes in San Diego that got fined for using illegals millions of dollars because of the shabby construction work, illegals can’t read blueprints, duh! let alone any other important construction instructions. I could go on and on…..but I need to go to work.”
The county assessor’s criticism wasn’t limited to immigrant construction workers. “I would never have a uneducated illegal hater of Americans watch my children or clean my house, they can’t read and have no idea what directions are listed on cleaning supplies, that’s just one example,” wrote Matson.
Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo responded that he has “no legal reason to investigate the workers’ status.” “That’s what we call racial profiling,” DeMeo told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I’m in favor of supporting the Constitution,” DeMeo said. “People (like Matson) want to wrap themselves in the flag but they don’t think the law should apply to anyone but them.” Commissioner Joni Eastley publicly scolded Matson, stating, “Your racially charged and insensitive comments were wholly inappropriate and volatile and they were sent under the seal of Nye County…We don’t tolerate racists.”
Although utterly reprehensible, Matson’s comments pale in comparison to recent remarks made by other local Republican elected officials across the country. From the Kansas state Representative who said we should shoot immigrants like “wild swine,” to the Alabama state Senator who advised Republicans to “empty the clip, and do what has to be done” to stop immigrants from “destroying” his community, hate speech against immigrants is unfortunately nothing new in mainstream politics.
The Nye County commissioners “could do little more than issue a public reprimand” because Matson is an elected official. Matson is reportedly “unapologetic.” However, the five county commissioners who unanimously agreed to stand up against Matson’s troubling remarks should set a precedent that will hopefully be followed in Kansas where over 55,000 people have signed on to a petition seeking the resignation of state Rep. Virgil Peck (R).