With just over a week of counting left, local leaders make a final push to increase responses to the U.S. census

Back in May, Mayor Ken Tedford of Fallon issued a simple challenge to Mayor Debra March of Henderson — whichever mayor’s community has the lowest participation in the census by the end of the count has to give the other mayor a key to the city. 

The deadline for that challenge is rapidly approaching as the country nears the Sept. 30 date that marks the end of counting for the once a decade U.S. census. Although response rates throughout the state aren’t as high as officials hoped, the mayors’ moves in Fallon and Henderson may have made an impact as both of these cities have response rates higher than 70 percent, and Henderson is one of only five large cities in the U.S. to surpass 75 percent.

“It’s extremely important that every single household participate in the 2020 census … to help determine where tax dollars should be used to fund education, healthcare, transportation, public safety and other programs that contribute to every resident’s quality of life,” March said in an email to The Nevada Independent. “Henderson is leading the state of Nevada in the self-response rate … In May, I accepted Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford’s invitation to a friendly census response rate challenge and if these results continue, Mayor Tedford will soon owe me a key to the city!”

The mayors’ friendly competition was meant to inspire community participation in the census in a year during which response rates have been much lower than they were in 2010 and officials fear a potential undercount. Kate Marshall, Nevada’s lieutenant governor and the chair of the Complete Count Committee charged with promoting the census, thinks this kind of involvement from local politicians and the community-bonding that comes with friendly competition can only be beneficial to raising census response rates.

“Just think about when UNR and UNLV play,” Marshall said on Sunday, during the committee’s Census Weekend of Action. “There’s a very happy competition, right?” 

More than half of the state’s counties have not hit response rates from 2010 with just over a week remaining to complete those counts. Local leaders across the state have been implementing programs that help them engage in the community in order to encourage participation in the census and educate residents about what the purpose of the census is. 

In addition to its competition with Henderson, Fallon officials have put notices in the local newspaper and set up tables at community pools to increase participation — efforts that have resulted in a response rate of over 70 percent.

“The mayor is taking it seriously and we’ve tried, I guess, about all the tricks up our sleeve that we could think of,” said Robert Erquiaga, the city’s legal and administrative director.

While Marshall has indicated that operations by the national Census Bureau have been slowing in the state throughout the past month, local initiatives have been ramping up as Nevada’s leaders try to ensure as many residents as possible provide information on their households in the last week of the census count.

“That spirit of community and collaboration … is going to take us over the finish line in a better place than we are today,” Marshall said.

The lieutenant governor herself took part in some of these programs over the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, Marshall, joined by several community leaders including Assembly members Selena Torres and Edgar Flores and Las Vegas City Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, held outreach events in East Las Vegas, where response rates to the census are at 29.4 percent, far lower than the overall county response rate that is more than 65 percent.

Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall speaks with Las Vegas City Councilwoman Olivia Diaz and a volunteer during the Census Weekend of Action on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo Courtesy of Nevada Complete Count Committee).

The leaders were joined by census takers and volunteers who helped residents fill out their census forms. Marshall says that the weekend’s efforts in East Las Vegas pulled in around $1 million as each person who completes the census means $20,000 for the region’s budget over the next 10-year period.

Communities with demographic makeups similar to East Las Vegas consistently have lower response rates than more affluent communities, but it is exactly these communities, according to Marshall, that need to be counted correctly the most. 

“The people in East Las Vegas need health care, education, infrastructure,” said Marshall. “So the very people who don’t have time to focus on things outside of food and shelter are the very people we need to be counted so that we can lift up this state.”

While the census may not take a long amount of time to complete, it is less of a priority in busy households where working multiple jobs, grocery shopping, and helping children with school take precedence. 

“In the Constitution when it says life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ... those are in order,” she said. “And also, quite frankly, there has been a politicalization of this process.”

Courts have blocked attempts by the Trump administration to include citizenship questions on the census and exclude undocumented immigrants, but according to Marshall and others, the damage has been done and uncertainty is rampant in Latino communities, where people fear any information they give may be used against them by immigration officers.

“I can talk about how safe it is, but when you have people like the president of the United States making a lot of political statements with respect to the census, that distorts the process,” Marshall said.

East Las Vegas and other urban communities have very high Latino populations, but they are not the only regions in the state facing this issue. Nevada’s population is approximately 30 percent Latino, and many rural communities have large numbers of immigrants, resulting in similar problems with fear and uncertainty regarding the census and the perceived possibility it may be used to deport Nevada residents.

“One in five of our residents is foreign born, and, you know, we really believe that the rhetoric that came out of the White House leading up to the census really discouraged a lot of folks from completing the census,” said West Wendover Mayor Daniel Corona.

West Wendover is located in Elko County on the eastern border of the state with a population of approximately 4,200. The city’s response rate for the census is 52.8 percent, which is higher than its 2010 response rate. However, Corona says it’s still not as high as the city is hoping for.

“We can no longer rely on 2010 numbers to fund our needs in 2020 and until 2030,” he said. “It's so important that everyone takes the census as we were undercounted in 2010. And we can't afford to have that big of an undercount again in 2020.”

West Wendover has been sending out census reminders with every household’s water bill and implemented a program in March which offered residents $20 off their next utility bill if they filled out the census and brought proof of completion to city hall. According to Corona, the vast majority of those who did fill out the census took advantage of the offer, but participation in it has dwindled as the city’s response rate has flatlined over the last month and a half.

As the city’s response rate has largely settled at that 52 percent mark, the city and its census takers have largely focused on educational outreach, Corona said. Messaging has been largely focused on how census data cannot be used for immigration purposes or to deport any Nevada residents.

A lot of that educational messaging has been aimed at schools, with the hope that students who learn about the census and its purpose will relay that information to their parents and encourage them to provide information.

With just over a week left of the count, the city is expanding its education outreach in schools with public service announcements put together by the West Wendover High School journalism program. A similar video filmed by Marshall is being shown to students in the Clark County School District.

“They plan to show throughout the day in different classes, while the kids are doing their virtual learning,” Corona said. “And the hope is that if the parents are home, they're paying attention to what their kids are doing at school and, you know, parents might catch that and some of that might observe and absorb it and go and take the census.”

Fighting misinformation isn’t the only challenge Corona and other rural leaders face in increasing census participation. It is often difficult for census forms to be delivered in rural areas where many citizens have P.O. boxes. Census forms cannot be delivered to a P.O. box and instead a form must be delivered by a field operative. According to Marshall, the pandemic has “compounded” already limited field operations this year.

The mayor himself told Marshall that he received his census packet but some of his own neighbors did not, and Marshall says she has heard from Lovelock, Carlin, Fort McDermitt, and basically all of Esmeralda County that forms have not been delivered there. As of Sept. 8 in Esmeralda, the smallest county in the state with less than 1,000 residents, the response rate was only 14.7 percent, the lowest of any county in the state and less than half of what it had been in 2010. 

West Wendover is also planning to host a virtual town hall over Facebook in the next week as a final attempt to educate residents and encourage them to fill out information about their households. Using social media to encourage residents to complete the census is something other cities have been trying as well.

“We’re working under a completely different landscape, which is challenging, right? We’ve never seen this before,” said Hillary Schieve, the mayor of Reno. “That’s why we really look to social media because we believe more people are using technology to communicate.”

Officials in Reno have been making use of the Nextdoor app among other forms of social media to spread the word about the census. Nextdoor allows neighbors who live in the same community to share information with each other as well as connect with businesses and public agencies.

“There’s a lot of residents that are paying attention, and they’re engaged,” Schieve said. “We’ve seen in the past, certainly, when we’re working on messaging to the community that those are really effective ways.”

The response rate in Washoe County is slightly higher than that of Clark, at over 68 percent.

In addition to improving response rates in inner-city and rural areas, from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24, the state will be conducting outreach to unsheltered and transient populations. Nevada’s homeless population was undercounted in 2010, and Marshall expects the same to occur this year, but hopes that efforts made by non-profits will at least improve the rate of response.

Counting of Nevada’s transient populations will take place through service providers as census takers are not allowed and not trained to visit encampments and other locations where homeless individuals are known to congregate.

The state has also been making an effort to leave forms at temporary housing units in order to get as accurate a count as possible.

Nevadans wait to fill out census forms during the Census Weekend of Action on Sept. 19, 2020.

Although attempts have been made to further extend the counting deadline for the census, with officials arguing that finishing the count at the end of the month would result in a flawed count, Marshall does not anticipate receiving any additional time. Even if time were extended, census operations have been winding down and would have to be ramped up again.

“We learned [Saturday] that there are only about 12 census takers in the entire state of Nevada right now,” Marshall said. “One of the reasons that I called for the push this weekend is because quite frankly, if we in the state of Nevada had not called for that, it wouldn’t have happened.”

But Marshall says that even while operations have been slowing, she’s grateful for the work the Census Bureau did during its time in the state. She also says she is grateful for the work local politicians and community members have done to try and get as accurate a count as possible.

“I am overwhelmed with the community that we have shown and grateful, and it gives me hope,” she said. “It gives me a feeling that when we come together, we can achieve the things we need for our community, that really we talk about Nevada as our Nevada, right, and we matter.”

Mayors, commission chair defend Jara in letter sent to school board

Three mayors and the chair of the Clark County Commission have thrown their support behind Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara, whose job is in jeopardy.

Last week, three members of the Clark County School Board of Trustees — Linda Cavazos, Danielle Ford and Linda Young — requested a special meeting to discuss Jara’s future with the nation’s fifth-largest school district. The request followed a rocky few weeks and mounting tensions, especially after the governor, legislators and state superintendent accused him of being dishonest regarding a piece of legislation that would have allowed the redistribution of unspent funds from individual schools.

The special board meeting has not been scheduled yet.

But, in the meantime, local elected leaders have come to his defense, denouncing the trustees’ move as “petty squabbling.” The letter, which was signed by Henderson Mayor Debra March, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick and sent to the school board Tuesday, was reported by The Las Vegas Review-Journal and 8 News Now.

“Dr. Jesus Jara’s record for improving student achievement is unquestionable,” the letter says. “His resolve to address the myriad inequities present in our district is unchanging. Dr. Jara has opened his office to local elected officials and routinely welcomes our input on the decisions that will affect this region.”

Jara has led the Clark County School District since June 2018. His contract runs through June 2021.

Indy DC Download: Senate sends second coronavirus package to Trump with work underway on a third

President Donald Trump last week signed into law the second legislative package approved by Congress to combat the pandemic, as Senate Republicans took the lead on a third package to help cushion the economic blow from the measures states like Nevada have taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

“For the people that are now out of work because of the important and necessary containment policies, for instance the shutting down of hotels, bars and restaurants, money will soon be coming to you,” Trump wrote on Twitter early Wednesday morning. 

The Senate voted 90 to 8 Wednesday evening to send the measure to Trump for his signature. He signed it shortly after the vote. The House last week was not in session and is not expected to return unless it has to vote on the third package, dubbed phase three by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

McConnell unveiled his phase three package, estimated to cost $1 trillion, Thursday and hopes to hold the first vote on the package as soon as Saturday. Senate Republicans are working on a deal with Senate Democrats as well as House leaders and committee chairmen.

The Senate leader wants the chamber to pass the measure by Monday. The House could pass the package by unanimous consent, to avoid coming back and possibly spreading the virus. But all House lawmakers would have to be on board.

Both Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen praised the Senate passage of the second package, which included free coronavirus testing, emergency paid sick leave, enhanced unemployment benefits, enhanced food aid for people affected by the outbreak and a temporary 6.2 percent increase in the federal Medicaid match for states.

“While more needs to be done to help small businesses and the workers in Nevada’s hardest-hit industries, @SenCortezMasto and I are pleased that Congress has acted quickly and in a bipartisan manner to address the threat of coronavirus,” Rosen wrote on Twitter after passage of the bill.

Phase three

At least seven Democratic votes will be needed to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster of the package, which gives Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his Democratic colleagues leverage in negotiations with McConnell and the White House. The proposal would also need to get through the Democratic-run House.

After the package was unveiled, both Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised concerns about helping businesses over workers.

“We are beginning to review Senator McConnell’s proposal and on first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers.” 

Pelosi later called the bill a "non starter" as currently written.

The package would provide $200 billion in loans to large businesses hit by the crisis, such as the airline and hotel industries.

Schumer and Pelosi are concerned that those funds could be used for other initiatives like compensating executives or stock buybacks rather than passing it through to workers.

McConnell’s package comes as Nevada lawmakers and business leaders have urged Congress to include funding for hotels and casinos.

On Friday, the Nevada Resort Association  sounded the alarm for federal aid in a letter to congressional representatives arguing that the state is “the national epicenter of economic devastation” in the coronavirus outbreak and could see unemployment shoot above 30 percent — twice the levels seen in the Great Recession.

Also on Friday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Henderson Mayor Debra March and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve signed onto a letter with 300 other mayors from 48 states asking for $250 billion for localities to fight the coronavirus, maintain city services and protect families and local businesses from the economic fallout of this crisis.

“Direct fiscal assistance to cities will ensure that mayors can continue to provide vital public services (including public safety, water, sewer, solid waste, and municipal electricity) and that local governments are not forced to make cuts that further exacerbate the economic impact of this crisis.” the U.S. Conference of Mayors letter said. 

On Thursday, Gov. Steve Sisolak participated in a call Trump held with the nation’s governors in which Sisolak urged the president to consider the state’s hospitality industry in any recovery package approved by the federal government to counter the economic damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier last week, Sisolak called for a 30-day closure of all nonessential businesses in the state, including casinos, to avoid further spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, the entire Nevada congressional delegation wrote to House and Senate Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to underscore the crisis’ effect on the state’s tourism industry.

“We need to be looking out for everybody: our small businesses, Nevada’s vital gaming, tourism and outdoor recreation industries, and most importantly, our workers, especially those in the hospitality industry, who are the lifeblood of the Silver State,” the letter said. “We need to work together to assuage the concerns of so many Americans whose livelihood depends on travel and tourism and who take pride and rely on the positive image of our nation, both at home and abroad.”

On Tuesday, MGM Chief Jim Murren, along with other tourism industry executives, visited the White House to discuss the crisis’s impact on their businesses. Murren discussed how MGM voluntarily closed its Las Vegas properties.

“That’s 70,000 people we are now putting on a furlough,” Murren told Trump. “I want to retain those employees.  I want to bring them back as soon as possible.”

“I also represent the 2 million jobs of the gaming industry in the United States,” Murren continued. “And, as you know, many of those casinos are in cities that rely upon them for their tax revenue.  So I appreciate your efforts, and I stand by to help you in any way I can.”

Rep. Dina Titus, who is co-chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus also wrote a letter last week, signed by 49 other House members, to House leaders and top appropriators calling for support. Reps. Mark Amodei, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford also signed the letter.

“One of every ten jobs in this country is tied to the travel and tourism industry,” Horsford said in a release. “In my home state of Nevada, that statistic is much higher."

“I’m calling on leadership in both branches of Congress and asking them to consider Nevada’s vital gaming, tourism and outdoor recreation industries, and most importantly, our workers, especially those in the hospitality industry, who keep our state the fantastic place it is to live, work, and visit,” he continued.

The proposal includes the government paying individuals up to $1,200 and up to $2,400 for couples plus an extra $500 for each child. Those amounts would be reduced for people making more than $75,000 a year and households making more than $150,000. Individuals making more than $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000 would be ineligible for payments.

That provision has gotten some pushback from Republicans, including Sen. Lindsay Graham, a close advisor to Trump, who has urged the president to reverse course on the provision. But his opposition appeared to have softened. He tweeted that he’s willing to “pay 75 percent of people's income up to $80,000 to get us through” the next six to eight weeks.

The bill would also provide $300 billion in loans to small businesses, defined as those with less than 500 employees. The loans would be forgiven if the funds are used to maintain their payroll. 

The measure would also move the traditional April 15 tax filing deadline to July 15 and allows individuals required to make estimated tax payments to postpone them until October 15th. It waives penalties for early withdrawal from qualified retirement accounts for coronavirus-related purposes of up to $100,000, allows the Secretary of Education to defer student loan payments and allows students who were forced to drop out of school due to coronavirus to keep their Pell grants.

Coronavirus in the Capitol

The first two members of Congress were diagnosed last week with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. They are Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, a Republican from Florida, and Rep. Ben McAdams, a Democrat from Utah.

The offices of Titus, Amodei and Lee all said that none of those lawmakers had any contact with either and are continuing their work in their districts. They all are heeding the advice of national health experts. Horsford’s office did not immediately respond.

According to an update from Congress' Attending Physician, “instances where the affected Members may have briefly come into contact with other colleagues on the House Floor would be considered to be low risk exposures and no additional measures are required other than for them to report any illness should they become ill.”

Like most of the nation’s places of work, the U.S. Capitol building is now sparsely populated with members taking precautions, as best as possible.

Cortez Masto continues to maintain a regular schedule and is taking meetings over the phone and via video conference, according to her office. Staff in her Nevada and Washington, D.C. offices are teleworking until further notice. 

Rosen is also using skeleton staff with the rest teleworking. She, too, is taking meetings via teleconference and video conference.

“Our offices remain open and ready to assist all Nevadans,” Rosen spokeswoman Ivana Brancaccio said.

On the House side, Nevada’s lawmakers are also using video and phone conferences and reduced staff.

Titus canceled her annual event that offers free tax filing services for constituents.

“We encourage those who planned to attend our event to contact the Nevada Free Taxes Coalition to make alternative accommodations,” her spokesman, Kevin Gerson, said.

Amodei’s office in D.C. normally has 10 staffers, including an intern, but they have switched to no more than three people in the office at any one time. 

The Nevada Republican will make accommodations if an in-person meeting is needed out of his Elko or Reno offices, which have one and four staffers under normal circumstances.

“Yes, Congressman Amodei is continuing to have meetings and any rescheduled meetings are being handled on a case by case basis,” said Amodei’s spokeswoman Logan Ramsey. “Some of those requests have been rescheduled for an in-person meeting date down the road, and some have opted for an over the phone meeting.”


Also last week, Cortez Masto and Rosen wrote several coronavirus-related letters, including one arguing for enhancing or extending renewable energy tax breaks in the phase three bill or future economic aid packages.

“Providing support to the clean energy industry will give much-needed certainty and confidence for those workers that they will be able to keep their paychecks and their jobs in this critical industry,” the senators also said.

The Nevada delegation has been pushing to preserve a generous tax credit for residential and commercial solar projects. The credit dropped from 30 percent in 2019 to 26 percent in 2020 and will phase out completely in 2022 for residential users, plateauing at 10 percent for commercial users. More than 6,600 Nevadans worked in the solar industry as of fall 2019, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association

They wrote a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Matthew T. Albence, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan seeking information about the policies and procedures their agencies have in place to prepare for and manage a potential spread of the coronavirus among detainees and staff in DHS facilities.

“Given the spread of the virus in the U.S.—and the particular vulnerability of individuals in immigration detention and staff—it is critical that DHS, ICE, and CBP have plans to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus at DHS facilities and to protect detained persons, facility staff, and the general public,” the letter said.

There are about 39,000 individuals in immigration detention and the agency has requested capacity to detain 60,000 for fiscal year 2021, according to the letter.

The two also wrote to Vice President Mike Pence, who is head of the White House’s virus task force, to allow agencies to be lenient about staffing requirements in connection with receiving health care grants.  

“In order to qualify for many of the federal grants that support Nevada’s public health initiatives, recipient agencies are required to track the hours and personnel working on grant funded projects,” the letter said.

The senators want federal agencies to relax those requirements to keep health care workers on the task of fighting the virus as opposed to filling out paperwork. 

“Our state and local health agencies should not be forced to forfeit much-needed federal dollars for public health initiatives that were vital to our communities before the coronavirus outbreak, and will be needed long after the outbreak is contained by our tireless health care workers and first responders,” the senators said. “We ask that [the administration] direct relevant federal agency heads to provide grant recipients with reasonable leniency in utilizing previously-awarded federal health care grant funding to respond to COVID-19 in their communities.”

For a full rundown of the measures the delegates supported or opposed this week, check out The Nevada Independent’s congressional vote tracker and other information below.


Legislation co-sponsored:

S. 3544 – A bill to assist older Americans and people with disabilities affected by COVID-19.

S. 3535 – A bill to extend the due date for the return and payment of Federal income taxes to July 15, 2020, for taxable year 2019.

S. 3531 – A bill to provide for the conveyance of certain Federal land to Lander County, Nevada, and for other purposes.

S. 3503 – A bill to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to treat certain programs of education converted to distance learning by reason of emergencies and health-related situations in the same manner as programs of education pursued at educational institutions, and for other purposes.


Legislation co-sponsored:

S. 3544 – A bill to assist older Americans and people with disabilities affected by COVID-19.

S. 3535 – A bill to extend the due date for the return and payment of Federal income taxes to July 15, 2020, for taxable year 2019.

S. 3503 – A bill to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to treat certain programs of education converted to distance learning by reason of emergencies and health-related situations in the same manner as programs of education pursued at educational institutions, and for other purposes.

Follow the Money: Years after leaving office, Reid and other former politicians continue campaign spending with little oversight

Harry Reid in a blue sport coat with red tie

In the three years since leaving office, Harry Reid has kept a low profile.

Rather than become a cable news talking head or lobbyist, the former Democratic Senate Majority Leader has given the occasional interview, dealt with health problems and held a few events at UNLV discussing anti-Semitism, leadership and the changing role of “Islam in America.”

Reid is far from out of the game, though. His former staff has fanned out to help run top 2020 presidential campaigns, and candidates still make regular calls or visits to the early caucus state’s “kingmaker.” 

But Nevada’s most powerful senator in modern history is still making his influence count in another way — continual use of his federal campaign accounts.

In the years since Reid left the U.S. Senate, his campaign account and leadership political action committee — Friends For Harry Reid and Searchlight Leadership Fund — have regularly continued to file disclosure reports that show a steady stream of campaign expenses, charitable donations and political contributions.

Add it all up and Reid’s two campaign accounts have spent a sizable $564,000 since 2017, with checks cut not only to charities and various campaign expenses, but also nearly $281,000 in contributions to political parties and a mix of state and federal Democrats running for office.

According to his most recently filed quarterly report, Reid still has more than $290,000 in available cash on hand between the two committees, more than two years after leaving office and nearly a decade since his last election.

Reid is far from the only retired federal office-holder to keep using campaign accounts once out of office. A trend of “zombie campaigns” is one taking place nationally and locally in Nevada, where former office-holders — namely former Reps. Joe Heck and Ruben Kihuen — are holding on to hundreds of thousands of dollars while continuing to use their federal campaign accounts after leaving office.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC), which oversees these federal accounts, prohibits candidates from using campaign funds for personal use, but offers little guidance on what candidates should do with their campaign accounts and the funds left over once their time in office comes to an end. 

The commission wrote in a 2013 advisory opinion that campaigns should aim to wind down expenses within six months of leaving office, but there are no hard and fast rules as to when a campaign has to close down — a loophole exploited by dozens of former federal office-holders who used their campaign accounts to buy iPads, country club memberships and other questionable expenses, according to a 2018 Tampa Bay Times investigation.

But lax federal election oversight (the FEC has been effectively shut down since August after a commissioner resigned and left the body with less than a quorum) means former candidates have a wide breadth of options on how to use the money left in their campaign piggybank once they leave office.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Reid declined to address specific spending questions but said the leftover funds were primarily used for charity and contributions to similarly-minded candidates.

“After winding down his official Senate office, Senator Reid has used leftover campaign funds to support local charities that do important work in Nevada communities and to support candidates who will carry the torch forward for the causes he championed while in office,” a spokesman for Reid said in an email. “These activities are permitted by both federal and Nevada law, and the money is not spent on personal use.”  

Reid’s contributions since leaving office

August 16, 2018, was akin to a political Christmas for Nevada Democrats.

On that day, just a few months before the midterm election, Reid’s former Senate account and leadership PAC combined to give $84,500 to Democratic candidates for federal, statewide and legislative races, from a combined $20,000 to gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak to $5,000 each for Democratic state Senate candidates running in key swing districts— Julie Pazina, Melanie Schieble and Marilyn Dondero Loop,

Those contributions fit a pattern of strategic political contributions made by Reid’s political arms — targeting not only top-of-the-ticket races, but also important, less public races down the ballot including city councils and county commissions.

The list of office-holders who have received campaign contributions from Reid is wide and deep: 13 U.S. Senators or Senate candidates, seven House hopefuls, five legislative candidates, six municipal candidates and five of the six statewide “constitutional” officers (governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer).

Here’s the full list of candidates and organizations who received a contribution from Reid’s federal campaign account and his leadership PAC since the start of 2017:

  • $101,000 to the Nevada State Democratic Party in September 2018 (a $1,000 donation was made in November 2017)
  • $20,000 to Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s campaign in August 2018
  • $19,000 total to groups affiliated with Nevada Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen’s campaign; $14,000 directly to her campaign in June 2017 and $5,000 to Rosen Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee affiliated with Rosen in August 2018
  • $15,000 to Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson’s campaign in August 2018
  • $10,000 to Our Votes, Our Voices, a state-based political action committee formed to fight efforts to recall Democratic state senators in 2017
  • $10,000 to Durbin Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee benefiting the campaign of Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, in June 2019
  • $8,000 to Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford’s campaign; $3,000 in April 2018 and $5,000 in August 2018
  • $5,000 to American Possibilities PAC, which is affiliated with former Vice President Joe Biden, in October 2018
  • $5,000 to Democratic Montana Sen. Jon Tester’s campaign in August 2017
  • $5,000 to former Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s campaign in September 2017
  • $5,000 to Democratic Iowa U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield’s campaign in June 2019
  • $5,000 to Democratic Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall’s campaign in March 2018
  • $5,250 to state Treasurer Zach Conine’s campaign; $250 in March 2018 and $5,000 in August 2018
  • $5,000 to former Democratic state Senate candidate Julie Pazina’s campaign in August 2018
  • $5,000 to Democratic State Sen. Melanie Scheible’s campaign in August 2018
  • $5,000 to former Democratic Secretary of State candidate Nelson Araujo’s campaign in August 2018
  • $5,000 to Clark County Commission candidate Justin Jones’s campaign in August 2018
  • $5,000 to Democratic state Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop’s campaign in August 2018
  • $2,500 to Washington Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s campaign in November 2017
  • $2,500 to Democratic Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign in April 2018
  • $2,000 to New Jersey Democratic U.S. Sen Bob Menendez’s campaign in June 2017
  • $2,500 to Michigan Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s campaign in January 2017
  • $5,000 to Nevada Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford’s campaign in August 2018
  • $12,000 to Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee’s campaign; $4,500 in August 2018, $5,000 in September 2017 and $2,500 in November 2017
  • $2,000 to Arizona Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly’s campaign in June 2019
  • $2,000 to California Democratic Rep. Norma Torres’s campaign in May 2019
  • $1,000 to Democratic state Sen. Mo Denis’s campaign in November 2017
  • $1,000 to Las Vegas City Councilwoman Olivia Diaz’s campaign in April 2019 (made after the municipal primary election but before the general election)
  • $1,000 to New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign in February 2018
  • $1,000 to former Missouri Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s campaign in February 2018
  • $1,000 to former Las Vegas City Councilman Steven Seroka’s campaign in March 2017
  • $1,000 to Henderson Mayor Debra March’s campaign in February 2017
  • $750 to Utah Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams’s campaign in September 2018
  • $500 to New Mexico Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland’s campaign in May 2018
  • $500 to former judicial candidate James Dean Leavitt’s campaign in October 2018
  • $500 to New Jersey Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross’s campaign in July 2018
  • $500 to Henderson city councilwoman Michelle Romero’s campaign in March 2019
  • $500 to former Indiana Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s campaign in December 2017
  • $500 to Rhode Island Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s campaign in October 2017
  • $500 to former Democratic California congressional candidate Kia Hamadanchy’s campaign in April 2017

But political contributions were just a portion of Reid’s spending since leaving office.

The two committees also reported spending more than $254,000 since 2017 on campaign expenses and wind-down related costs, including moving costs, credit card payments, bank fees, taxes, airline travel, meals and consulting services.

The vast majority of those expenses — $194,000 — came in 2017, the first year after Reid had left office.

But some of the reported spending has a less clear purpose. His campaign reported spending nearly $800 on “officially connected” gifts at a CVS and $20 on a SiriusXM radio subscription, both made in January 2017. He also reported spending nearly $1,200 at the now-closed Driftwood Kitchen in Washington, D.C. in November 2017.

And between February and May of 2017, Reid’s leadership PAC — Searchlight Leadership Fund — spent more than $4,200 on “gifts for donors,” including $1,100 of expenses incurred at Nordstrom, $1,059 at a CVS and $778 at Hermes, a luxury clothing store. 

The leadership PAC also reported paying for more than $12,000 in meals, primarily during the first six months of 2017 when Reid had just left office (the FEC doesn’t allow candidates to use campaign funds for “food purchased for daily consumption” but allows it for campaign meetings or fundraising activities). Outside of 2017, the leadership PAC reported a $450 expense at a Green Valley steakhouse in Henderson in March of 2019.

Reid’s Senate campaign account also reported making several payments for “wind down consulting” and “strategic consulting services” to a firm called Sala Consulting, Ltd. The firm was founded in January 2017 and is run by Chris Anderson, who lists himself as its president on his LinkedIn page and who spent nearly four years as the executive director of Reid’s official Senate campaign account and his affiliated “Leadership PAC,” Searchlight Leadership Fund. 

According to FEC records, $14,500 of the nearly $60,000 paid to Sala Consulting over the last three years has come from Reid’s campaign account or his leadership PAC, including $5,000 in 2017, $2,000 in 2018 and $5,000 in 2019. Outside of small disbursements from Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, all other Sala Consulting income reported through federal campaigns came from Rosen’s campaign, whom Reid “hand-picked” to challenge incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in 2018.

Reid has also made more than $31,000 in charitable contributions from his campaign accounts since leaving office, including a $10,000 check to the UNLV Foundation in November 2017, $1,250 donated to UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law in October 2017 and a combined $3,000 to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, as well as various other charities, including The Shade Tree, the Committee to Aid Abused Women, Children of Mine Youth Center and Dream Big Nevada.

The former Senate majority leader also has not shied away from contributing to media organizations, including:

  • $2,200 to Nevada Public Radio (between three donations)
  • $1,500 to The Nevada Independent
  • $1,250 to Vegas PBS
  • $1,000 to Daily Kos, a left-leaning Internet news website

Money raised

Reid’s campaign hasn’t just made contributions over the last two election cycles; it has also reported raising more than $111,500 since the start of 2017. Some of the funds have come from bank interest, but the vast majority came from one source — a boutique digital firm called Well & Lighthouse, which paid the campaign a total of $108,000 in 2017 for what was described in FEC records as “list sale income.”

Email lists are one of the most valuable commodities in the world of campaigns, especially as candidates have begun to eschew high-dollar fundraisers and rely more on a broader pool of small donors. A primary way to do that is through the sharing, rental or sale of email lists, which is how individuals who sign up or donate to one candidate can soon find themselves bombarded with donation requests from many other, seemingly unrelated candidates.

Since at least the 2012 election cycle, Well & Lighthouse has been a major vendor for Democratic congressional and Senate campaigns — bringing in more than $33.3 million since the 2012 election cycle, or an average of $8.3 million per election cycle, according to data from OpenSecrets.org. The firm also received $1.4 million from the campaign of Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto — Reid’s handpicked successor and former attorney general — in the 2016 election cycle, the second-highest of any candidate that cycle.

Well & Lighthouse was co-founded and is led by Jon-David Schlough, who worked on Reid’s 2010 re-election campaign overseeing digital strategy. His firm did not return a request for comment.

Zombie campaigns

Reid isn’t the only former politician to keep his federal campaign account past retirement; a 2018 Tampa Bay Times investigation into so-called “zombie” accounts found a myriad of questionable spending to likely abuses. These included a former South Carolina congressman-turned-lobbyist who kept his account open for more than two decades, disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley using campaign funds to buy dinner more than a decade after leaving office and a consultant being paid more than $100,000 over 17 months from the campaign account of Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai — despite Takai being dead the entire time.

In total, the investigation found nearly 100 “zombie” campaigns that had continued spending leftover donations on everything from “airline tickets, club memberships, a limo trip, cell phones, parking and new computers.”

The investigation eventually prompted the FEC, which did not have clear-cut rules on the use of campaign funds once out of office, to send letters earlier this year to nearly 27 campaigns asking why their campaigns were still open and posing specific questions on reported spending (Reid’s campaign did not receive a letter).

But enforcement action is unlikely after FEC Commissioner Matthew Petersen resigned in August, dropping the number of active commissioners to three — below the legal requirement to hold a meeting or make any high-level decisions.

The Center for Public Integrity reported that the commission — composed of up to six members, with no more than three of the same political party — has been effectively hobbled since the resignation, with no power to hold meetings, levy fines, issue advisory opinions or work on the backlog of nearly 300 cases on its enforcement docket, many of which may surpass the statute of limitations early next year.

Although there’s little clear guidance under federal campaign law, the Legislature in 2015 passed a law requiring former candidates or public officials to dispose of unspent campaign contributions within four years (the law only applies to candidates for state legislative or local office, not federal races).

Zombies in Nevada

Other former Nevada politicians with leftover cash have elected to either hold on to their campaign contributions, use them in other races or refund checks to contributors. 

One of the more notable examples is former Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who elected not to run for re-election in 2017 in the face of sexual misconduct allegations reported by BuzzFeed News and The Nevada Independent (details of which were later confirmed in a House Ethics Committee investigation).

Rather than return his then-substantial campaign war chest of more than $318,000 to donors, Kihuen transferred more than $160,000 to his 2019 campaign for a Las Vegas City Council seat (a move at first questioned by but later deemed acceptable by the Nevada Secretary of State). Kihuen narrowly lost in the primary election.

As of his last quarterly campaign finance report, Kihuen had $151,000 in available cash on hand. Other than nominal fees for storage, web hosting and postage, his other major expenditures include legal consulting ($1,220 to the law firm of Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock) and a $500 contribution to Adrian Boafo, the former chief of staff to Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer and City Council candidate in Maryland.

Others have opted to return donations after losing their races. Former Sen. Dean Heller, who lost his re-election bid in 2018, has already made more than $103,000 in refunds to contributors throughout 2019. He also made a $10,000 charitable donation to a search and rescue task force, and has otherwise not made contributions to other candidates.

His campaign, which raised more than $15 million during the last election cycle, has a relatively paltry $99,000 left in cash on hand.

Similarly, Heller’s 2012 opponent — former Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley — filed termination paperwork for her Senate committee less than a year after losing her race (Berkley forgave more than $249,000 in personal loans while terminating her campaign, suggesting that she had little cash left over at the end of her campaign).

Not all former office-holders have taken Heller or Berkley’s path. Former Republican Rep. Joe Heck, who lost a U.S. Senate bid in 2016, still has more than $189,000 left in his Senate campaign account, and FEC records show his campaign has paid out nearly $296,000 over the last two election cycles.

As with Reid, Heck’s contributions have largely focused on wind-down campaign expenses, but have also benefited political parties and candidates, including $75,000 to the Nevada Republican Party in July 2018 and $5,000 to the Washoe County Republican Party in October 2017. Other contributions to political candidates made by Heck include:

  • $11,000 to former Nevada Republican Adam Laxalt’s gubernatorial campaign throughout 2017 and 2018 
  • $9,000 to groups affiliated with former Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller; $5,000 to his Senate campaign in Sept. 2017 and $5,000 to an affiliated joint fundraising committee, Heller Senate Victory Committee, in April 2018 
  • $8,000 to the campaign of Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei in March 2018 
  • $8,000 to former Nevada Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy’s campaign in January 2018
  • $8,000 to former Arizona Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally in March 2018 (McSally lost her election but was later appointed to a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate) 
  • $7,000 to Americans United for Freedom, a joint fundraising PAC formed to support Republican Senate candidates. The contributions were made in March 2018.
  • $5,000 to Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine-Husted’s campaign in January 2018
  • $4,000 to Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in January 2018
  • $4,000 to former Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita in January 2018
  • $4,000 to Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Lloyd Smucker in May 2018
  • $4,000 to former Nevada Republican congressional candidate Stavros Anthony in September 2017
  • $2,500 to former Maine Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin in June 2017
  • $2,000 to Florida Republican Rep. Brian Mast in September 2018
  • $1,000 to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in April 2018
  • $500 to Nevada Supreme Court Justice Lidia Stiglich in May 2018

Heck, who is now a lobbyist for Red Rock Strategies, also gave a $10,000 contribution to Issue One, a “cross-partisan political reform group” that focuses on issues such as campaign finance reform and election security. Heck is listed as one of the group’s “ReFormers” — more than 200 former political figures and congressional representatives. He also gave $1,000 to a group called Nevada State Society, a 501(c)(4) organization composed of Nevadans who live in the Washington, D.C. area (Red Rock Strategies, Heck’s employer, is a “sponsor” of the group, according to its website).

Heck’s campaign also paid $23,400 to WPA Intelligence, a political firm best known for its role in Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, for a “Survey Study (Services)” in July of 2018.

A different path was taken by former Nevada Rep. Cresent Hardy, a Republican who served one term in Congress between 2014 and 2016, lost his 2016 re-election bid and lost another bid for the seat in 2018. His campaign account with the FEC was transformed this year into an organization called Nevada Values PAC, which has retained more than $197,000 in cash on hand from Hardy’s 2018 election cycle. In paperwork submitted to the FEC in February, Hardy’s new PAC will operate as a Carey Committee (or hybrid PAC) that is allowed to maintain two bank accounts — one of which can make direct contributions to candidates and is subject to FEC rules and regulations, and the other which can accept unlimited donations and operate like a Super PAC, meaning it cannot coordinate with other campaigns or candidates.

NV Energy paying nearly $1 million a year to keep Henderson, LVCVA as customers

A picture of Henderson City Hall Sign

NV Energy will make annual cash payments totaling nearly $1 million to the city of Henderson and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority over the next five years as part of unique and unprecedented deals to retain the government entities as utility customers.

Contracts approved by the Henderson City Council and LVCVA in recent weeks will allow both entities to annually bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars from NV Energy, in return for a promise to not file any application to leave the utility’s service and purchase electricity from another power provider.

The two contracts offer a unique view into just how far NV Energy — which is owned by the Warren Buffet-run Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate — is willing to go to entice large Nevada power users to remain utility customers, as many of the largest businesses in the state have openly weighed or taken proactive steps to buy power from other electric providers.

Since May, NV Energy has announced similar long-term arrangements or deals with several other customers, including Station Casinos, the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Sands, the Atlantis, Golden Gaming and South Point. An NV Energy spokeswoman declined to say whether arrangements with those businesses — which are not required to be publicly reported to the Public Utilities Commission — included similar financial payments as part of a deal to stick with the utility.

“NV Energy has always treated customer information as private and will continue to do so in the case of customer agreements,” utility spokeswoman Jennifer Schuricht said in an email. “These customer agreements with governmental entities are subject to public record laws, and we and the customer abide by the laws applicable to the customer.”

If the contracts with Henderson ($250,000 a year) and the LVCVA ($650,000 a year) scale up to the other businesses with similar arrangements but larger electric loads, the amount of payments made annually by NV Energy to its largest customers could easily run into the millions or tens of millions of dollars. Schuricht, who noted the utility is seeking a $120 million rate cut for Southern Nevada customers in its upcoming general rate case, said the cost of complying with the contracts are not currently recovered through electric rates and that the PUC would need to approve any possible future recovery for cash payments made to those customers.

“NV Energy believes that we present the best energy value for our customers, and that retaining our commercial and industrial customers benefits all other customers,” she wrote in an email. “Any costs associated with the customer agreements are not included in electric rates. If NV Energy ever decided to seek recovery in the future, it will be done through an open and transparent public process with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, who will decide what is in the public’s best interest.”

Since 2014, NV Energy has dealt with a steady trickle of its largest customers filing applications to leave its electric service under the 704B law, which allows large customers to file applications to leave utility service and purchase electricity from other entities, provided they pay a usually substantial impact fee determined by the PUC to ensure other utility customers aren’t left with higher costs.

The exits began in earnest in 2014 with the departures of MGM Resorts, Switch and Caesars Entertainment, but more than a dozen large businesses filed to leave in late 2018 and early 2019, leading to increasingly vocal concerns from NV Energy as to the effect the departures would have on the utility’s financial health and future load growth, likely creating upward pressure on rates for its other customers.

The direct payments are one of several tools the utility has unleashed during a campaign to keep its largest customers from jumping ship, including development of a special, renewable power-backed Optional Pricing Program Rate, proposed across-the-board rate cuts and support for a law passed by the 2019 Legislature adding new barriers for large power users wishing to depart utility electric service.

But unlike the other tools, the deals made with the city of Henderson, LVCVA, and potentially other businesses aren’t required to be publicly reported or approved by the PUC, and instead have only been revealed through public records requests or as supporting material for public meetings.

The LVCVA — the government-backed tourism agency that operates Cashman Field and the Las Vegas Convention Center — had filed a 704B exit application in February but withdrew it in May, at the same time publicly announcing a five-year energy services agreement with NV Energy.

As part of the contract approved on May 22, the agency will receive $650,000 annually for the next three years and $525,000 for two subsequent years in the form of either cash payments or lowered energy bills under the proposed Optional Pricing Program Rate (OPPR) offered to large utility customers.

The contract contains language requiring the LVCVA to consider taking electric service under the OPPR program starting in 2022, with any shortfall in electric savings under $525,000 a year made up in the form of cash payments from the utility to the agency. NV Energy withdrew its application for the OPPR program earlier in June amid concerns from PUC staff and the Bureau of Consumer Protection, but says it plans to refile the application soon.

Language in the contract requires that the “incentives” be paid out of the utility’s retained earnings and requires the provisions and payments to be voided if the agency decides to opt out of the OPPR program in 2022. It also requires the incentive payment amount to be lowered if the PUC approves any revenue reduction greater than $120 million during NV Energy’s next general rate case, with any cost savings from lower electric prices taken out of the amount the agency would get from NV Energy as an incentive payment.

The contract also includes language requiring the utility to help the agency satisfy “renewable energy objectives,” including the possible purchase of renewable energy credits, as well as energy efficiency rebate programs. It also contains language automatically lowering the amount of financial payments made to the LVCVA if the agency installs any on-site generation, such as solar panels.

In return for those benefits, the LVCVA’s only contractual requirement is to not file a 704B exit application with the PUC or any other application to purchase electric service from another provider.

It also includes a “confidentiality” section, noting that while the agreement must be publicly noticed and approved by the LVCVA’s board in a public meeting, the “customer otherwise will attempt to maintain confidentiality of this Agreement.” It also limits press releases or announcements about the contract without prior written consent of the other party.

The contract and dollar amount of the incentives were not included in supporting material posted for the agency’s May 22 meeting, and the contract was only obtained through a public records request submitted by The Nevada Independent on Friday.

The contract with Henderson, which was approved during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, is substantially similar — the city will receive roughly $250,000 a year for the next five years in the form of either cash payments or lowered energy bills under the proposed OPPR program.

Under the terms of the contract, the utility agrees to give $250,000 in “incentive payments” to Henderson through 2022, after which the city will either be granted the special OPPR rate or continue to pay the quarter million dollars if the rate structure is not approved. If savings from the new rate structure are less than $250,000 a year, the contract requires NV Energy to make up the difference in direct cash payments.

As with the LVCVA, those provisions are void if Henderson opts not to take up the OPPR rate, with the contract also requiring a reduction in the incentive rate in 2022 and 2023 equal to whatever savings the city would see under a planned $120 million revenue reduction the utility plans to file in its next general rate case.

The contract also includes language requiring the utility to “continue pursuing solutions” toward electric infrastructure demands toward development in west Henderson, including building out substations and installing other facilities. Typically, approval of specific transmission or other infrastructure projects by the utility must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission as part of the public Integrated Resource Plan (the contract language indicates both specific projects as well as a reference to working before the PUC for approval of the construction projects).

And like the LVCVA contract, it also includes general language requiring the utility to help the city satisfy “renewable energy objectives,” including the possible purchase of renewable energy credits.

“NV Energy’s willingness to help the City of Henderson find savings through energy efficiency, to work with us on meeting our renewable energy objectives, and their pledge to continue to advance economic development in West Henderson by expanding existing or building new electric infrastructure, demonstrated an unwavering commitment to do what is best for our citizens,” Henderson Mayor Debra March said in a statement announcing the contract on Thursday. “This is a mutually beneficial public-private partnership that extends benefits to our community as a whole.”

It’s unclear whether other businesses or entities that have announced similar agreements with NV Energy have also received such direct financial benefits.

The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents voted earlier in June to open negotiations with the utility and forego filing a 704B application, with the utility promising that its special OPPR rate could save the system up to $381,000 in power bills every year. Michael Flores, chief of staff to NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly, said negotiations on the scope of any new arrangement or contract with the utility has not begun, but said that “everything is on the table at this point.”

Henderson NVE Contract by Riley Snyder on Scribd

Lvcva Nve Agreement by Riley Snyder on Scribd

March can't run for re-election as Henderson mayor, Goodman to serve extra 18 months under bill moving municipal election dates

A picture of Henderson City Hall Sign

Henderson Mayor Debra March will be unable to run for a second term and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman will be in office for an extra 18 months under a bill passed by the Legislature and awaiting a signature from Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Those electoral changes are the result of AB50, a bill backed by Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s office that would require the eight Nevada cities that currently hold municipal elections in odd-numbered years to move their election schedules to even-numbered years starting in 2022.

The bill, which passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses of the Legislature, was brought by the office as a way to increase voter turnout in local municipal elections, which typically see much lower participation than elections in normal, even-year cycles. (Turnout in the 2019 municipal primary election was just 8.8 percent of all registered voters.)

But moving the election schedule means that local government mayors and City Council holders up for election in 2019 in Caliente, Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Ely, Fallon and Yerington will see their terms extended by 18 months to coincide with the new election schedule. (Boulder City is in the process of moving election dates, meaning the mayor and City Council members will serve shorter 3 year and 6 month terms).

The change means officials elected in 2019 — such as Goodman, who won a third term outright during the April primary election — will serve an extra year and a half before coming up for election again.

But it also means that March, who was appointed to the Henderson City Council in 2009 and elected as mayor in 2017, won’t be able to run for another term as mayor after surpassing 12 years in office and being officially termed out under the state’s constitutional requirements for term limits.

Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Thorley said that March would have been able to run for another term in 2021 without the bill, but that pushing the election back to 2022 would place her over the 12-year maximum for terms served (Henderson, like Reno, considers the mayoral position to be part of the City Council, meaning that March’s previous time in the council prevents her from running for another mayoral term.)

Thorley also shared an opinion from the office issued in February to a question from March herself if she would be able to run for another term. The secretary of state’s office held that an individual can run for re-election if they have not served 12 years or more in the office, even if they have served more than 12 years at the conclusion of their term, but that moving the election date back would block March from running for another term.

“As a result, the passage of Assembly Bill 50 in its current format would prohibit you from running for a second term as Mayor of the City of Henderson,” Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske wrote in the letter.