Former Reno-Sparks CEO Allegedly Called Mayor ‘C-Word,’ Harassed Female Employees

Posted on: June 10, 2020, 09:51h. 

Last updated on: June 11, 2020, 02:45h.

Former Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) CEO Phil DeLone allegedly used derogatory remarks about many people he worked closely with, including Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.

Reno RSCVA Phil DeLone
Some employees of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority say there was a culture problem at the agency during Phil DeLone’s time serving as CEO. (Image: Jason Bean/RGJ)

In February, DeLone announced he was resigning from the city’s tourism agency for medical reasons. However, he was under investigation at the time on allegations of misconduct.

COVID-19 brought the normal way of American life to a standstill. But it didn’t stop the Reno Gazette Journal from digging deeper into DeLone. The media outlet was first to break the news that the top executive at the RSCVA was being investigated by way of a public records request. But the disclosures released by the authority heavily redacted certain findings.

The RGJ says in a report published today that it has since obtained the 52-page unredacted report. In it are numerous allegations of inappropriate behavior committed by DeLone, including sexual misconduct, intimidation, and mockery.

The RSCVA is responsible for marketing and promoting convention and tourism business to “The Biggest Little City.” The city’s casinos won more than $626 million in 2019.

DeLone was hired to the chief executive position in November of 2016 with a base salary of $250,000. In 2018, he was awarded a 10 percent pay increase, along with a $100,000 bonus.

Sexual Misconduct Claims

The RGJ says under DeLone’s leadership, there was a fraternal-like environment where women were often disrespected.

DeLone allegedly called Reno Mayor Schieve, a member of the RSCVA board, the “C” word behind her back, according to the internal investigation. When asked about the allegations, DeLone said that isn’t a word he would typically use, but conceded that he might have said such a vulgarity.

The report also details incidences of DeLone acting inappropriately towards female staffers. A male RSCVA employee told investigators that his superior commented about a female colleague, “Can you imagine what that would be like? She’s got nice t**s.”

Another employee said DeLone encouraged the agency to hire “young and hot.” Regarding a company luncheon in which DeLone was accused of being “flirty” with female employees at his table, the CEO responded to complaints, “Got it. I was thinking maybe I had gone too far.”

The RGJ says DeLone has repeatedly declined to comment on the investigation and allegations.

Convention Leadership Failures

Some 400 miles south from Reno, the former top executive of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is also engulfed in scandal.

Rossi Ralenkotter, who retired in August of 2018 after heading the LVCVA since 2004, stepped down amid accusations of theft and misconduct. Prosecutors say Ralenkotter, his former Chief Marketing Officer Cathy Tull, and ex-LVCVA Director of Business Brig Lawson devised a scheme that allowed them to obtain $90,000 worth of Southwest Airlines gift cards with taxpayer money.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 8. The trio are facing felony charges. Ralenkotter has denied the accusations. Ralenkotter used roughly $16,000 in Southwest cards for personal travel, and Tull $6,000. Both reimbursed the LVCVA before they were charged.