Former state Sen. Yvanna Cancela named Gov. Steve Sisolak’s chief of staff

Gov. Steve Sisolak has tapped former state Sen. Yvanna Cancela to be his chief of staff, as Michelle White departs from the role.

Cancela will formally join the administration in September after leaving the state in 2020 to work within the federal Department of Health and Human Services. A Democratic senator appointed in 2016 and the first Latina in the state Senate, Cancela had been an early supporter of Joe Biden for the presidency.

"I am thrilled that Yvanna will be returning to the Silver State to serve as my chief of staff. She brings a unique understanding of state government, policy experience, and the ability to build broad coalitions,” Sisolak said in a statement on Monday. “Most importantly, I know Yvanna is as dedicated as I am to making Nevada a thriving and vibrant place to call home, and I look forward to her knowledge, expertise and guidance when she joins the team.”

White, who has led Sisolak’s staff since he began his term in 2019, leaves after nearly three years of state service. Previously, she held major leadership roles in Democratic campaigns such as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, and helmed electoral efforts for the PAC For Our Future.

Cancela, the former political director of the Culinary Union, began her tenure in the state Senate in 2016, when she filled a vacancy left when Ruben Kihuen was elected to Congress. Cancela’s legislative accomplishments include shepherding legislation that enhanced transparency in the pricing of diabetes drugs. She was elected in 2018 to a full term.

Cancela, 33, graduated from Northwestern University and recently attained a degree from UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.

Cortez Masto, Susie Lee again lead second quarter fundraising tallies as 2022 money race ramps up

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto speaking into a microphone behind a podium

Nevada’s incumbent Democrats padded their campaign war chests through the second quarter, with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Susie Lee leading their respective fields, according to data reported this week by the Federal Election Commission. 

Cortez Masto raked in nearly $2.8 million, exceeding her first quarter fundraising by nearly half a million dollars. Lee, meanwhile, raised more than $615,000, an amount roughly equaling her own first quarter numbers. 

With just under a year remaining before next year’s primary elections, fields in every race remain relatively small. Still, a handful of new entrants have emerged in the state’s key congressional battlegrounds, including three Republicans each in District 3 and 4 (both held by Democrats), and a primary challenger to Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in the deep blue District 1. 

Below are additional campaign finance numbers for each candidate who filed with the FEC as of Friday, broken down by congressional race and ordered from greatest cumulative fundraising to least. 

Catherine Cortez Masto (D) - incumbent

With no declared challengers through the entirety of the second quarter, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto boosted her campaign warchest with more than $2.7 million in contributions. Even after spending nearly $900,000, that sum lifted her cash on hand to nearly $6.6 million.

Cortez Masto’s campaign touted that cash on hand cushion as a crucial advantage this week, though the race to take or hold her seat in the Senate will likely draw millions more in fundraising for both major parties as next year’s general election approaches.

Still, her quarterly fundraising total was the lowest of any of the four Democratic Senate incumbents running in states rated as “Lean Democratic” by the Cook Political Report, a group of candidates that also includes Kelly ($6 million raised), Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock ($7.2 million) and New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan ($3.3 million). 

A vast majority of her second quarter fundraising — more than $2.3 million — came from individuals. Another $342,000 came from PACs, with the remainder flowing from committee transfers ($101,000), expenditure offsets and other receipts.

Almost a quarter of Cortez Masto’s spending — more than $218,000 — went to expenses related to fundraising mailers, including consultants, printing and postage, with even more ($343,000) dedicated to online fundraising expenses. 

Two Republican candidates, Sharelle Mendenhall and Sam Brown, formed campaign committees in July and did not report fundraising in the second quarter, which ended in June. 

Susie Lee (D) - incumbent 

Frequently the top House fundraiser in Nevada, Democratic Rep. Susie Lee once again led the state’s congressional candidates in the money race with more than $615,000 in second quarter contributions, pushing her cash on hand to nearly $955,000. 

Almost three-quarters of Lee’s fundraising, about $447,000, came from individual contributions, with another $156,000 coming from PACs. Much of the total also came from big-money donations, including eight contributions of the $5,000 maximum from PACs, and another 85 contributions of the maximum $2,900 for individuals (all totaling for a combined $286,500).

Lee’s spending last quarter neared $144,000, with sizable chunks of that money flowing to consultants — who combined for $45,700 in expenses — and advertising, including $20,000 for a digital ad campaign from Washington, D.C.-based firm Break Something. 

April Becker (R)

A one-time 2020 Nevada Senate hopeful-turned congressional challenger, April Becker led the district’s field of Republicans last quarter with nearly $251,000 in contributions, as well as roughly $259,000 cash on hand. 

Almost all of Becker’s fundraising came from individual contributions, with some major donors including several linked to the Meruelo Group — including maximum $5,800 contributions from Alex Meruelo, his wife Liset, and Meruelo Enterprises Vice President Luis Armona — and members of the Station Casinos-owning Fertitta family, including $5,800 contributions from Frank Fertitta III, Jill Fertitta, Lorenzo Fertitta and Teresa Fertitta. 

Becker also far outspent her rivals, dropping nearly $123,000, including more than $84,000 on expenses related to consulting or advertising. Of that money, more than $17,000 went to Las Vegas-based consulting firm November Inc., and nearly $19,000 went to October Inc.

Mark Robertson (R)

Another early entrant into the District 3 race, veteran Mark Robertson trailed Becker with $104,000 in contributions and nearly $117,000 in cash on hand. 

Nearly all of his fundraising, roughly $97,000, came from individual contributions, with another $3,000 coming from PACs and $3,600 coming from candidate loans. Many of Robertson’s biggest donors were Las Vegas-based business owners, including America’s Mart owners Nick and Kristy Willden ($5,800 each), Sunrise Paving’s Glenn and Jill Warren ($5,800 each) and Patrick’s Signs CFO Tiffani Dean ($5,800). 

Robertson reported spending only $31,000 last quarter, with much of it split between consulting, advertising and event fees. 

Noah Malgeri (R)

The newest Republican challenger in the field who entered the race in early June — just before the quarter ended — Republican attorney and business owner Noah Malgeri trailed the rest of the field with nearly $39,000 in second quarter fundraising and $32,400 cash on hand. 

That money stems mostly from more than $31,100 in candidate loans, buoyed by another $7,750 in individual contributions. 

Of the $6,300 Malgeri spent last quarter, almost all of it ($6,033) went to Las Vegas-based firm McShane, LLC. 

One other candidate, Republican Reinier Prijten, briefly filed in April before formally terminating his campaign committee in May.

Steven Horsford (D) - incumbent

Touting record off-year fundraising for a single quarter, Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford pulled in more than $581,000 last quarter, boosting his cash on hand to more than $1.2 million — a massive sum larger even than Nevada’s usual fundraising frontrunner, Susie Lee, and almost eight times as much money as his next nearest Republican competitor. 

A slight majority of Horsford’s fundraising ($305,800) came from individual contributions, with the remaining $275,000 coming from PAC money. Like Lee, Horsford also saw most of his money flow from big-dollar fundraising and maximum contributions, including 15 $5,000 maximum contributions from PACs, and another 127 individual contributions between the maximum $2,900 and $2,000. 

Together, those major contributions combine for more than $414,000. 

Horsford’s campaign spent more than $127,000 through the quarter, including more than $11,000 on online advertising and more than $22,000 on consulting.   

Sam Peters (R)

The runner-up in last year’s Republican primary in District 4, veteran and insurance salesman Sam Peters entered this year’s race with a fundraising edge on his Republican rivals. That edge continued into the second quarter, where he raised more than $119,000 and was left with more than $155,000 cash on hand. 

Peters saw a handful of maximum individual contributions through the quarter, with most coming from retirees or real estate-related donors. 

Peters was the only Republican spending large amounts last quarter, dropping more than $76,000. A sizable chunk of that spending, almost $34,000, went to Las Vegas-based consulting firm McShane, while another $18,700 went to credit card fees. 

Carolina Serrano (R) 

Though she was a relatively late entrant into the race, only forming her campaign committee in June, former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano still banked more than $49,000 last quarter and enters the third quarter with more than $42,000 left on hand. 

A majority of that fundraising came from a handful of big names (both current and former) in the gaming industry. That includes maximum $5,800 contributions from former Wynn CEO Steve Wynn and his wife, Andrea, as well as another $5,800 from Meruelo Group President Alex Meruelo, $4,200 from his wife Liset, $5,800 from Meruelo Group Executive Vice President Luis Armona and $4,200 from his wife, Margaret. 

Together, those six contributions alone total $31,600, or roughly two-thirds of all the money Serrano raised. 

Serrano spent comparatively little last quarter — just $6,200 — though nearly all of it came through a $5,000 digital ad buy.  

Tony Lane (R)

A former player for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in the mid-90s and now a Las Vegas business owner, Tony Lane raised the least of any Republican in the race with just $3,942. He spent nearly all of it — $3,362 — leaving just under $580 cash on hand. 

One other candidate, non-partisan John Johnson, did not report fundraising for this period, despite forming a campaign committee in February. 

Dina Titus (D) - incumbent

Facing what could be her first serious primary challenge since winning District 1 in 2012, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus roughly tripled her fundraising from the first quarter to the second, raking in more than $152,000 and lifting her cash on hand to more than $463,000. 

Of all Nevada’s federal-level midterms next year, Titus’ race could become the center of a split between the establishment wing of the state party and a surging group of left-wing activists. 

Those activists won a key victory in March of this year, electing a slate of progressives to party leadership positions. Ahead of that loss, the party apparatus hemorrhaged staffers and hundreds of thousands in money was transferred from state party accounts to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

Establishment Democrats have since launched a new campaign apparatus, the Nevada Democratic Victory campaign. 

Titus’ fundraising was almost even split between individual contributions ($80,000) and PAC money ($72,000), with some of Titus’ largest fundraisers including Las Vegas mega-donor Stephen Cloobeck ($2,800), Las Vegas-based attorney and political director for the state Senate Democrats Alisa Nave ($5,600) and Las Vegas-based doctor and frequent Democratic donor Nic Spirtos ($5,800).

Titus spent little in comparison to her fellow incumbents, logging just under $29,000 in expenditures last quarter. Most of that money, almost $20,000, went to consultants, including more than $12,000 for fundraising consulting. 

Amy Vilela (D)

A third-place runner up in the 2018 race to fill the open seat left in District 4 by the departure of Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen (a race ultimately won by Steven Horsford), Amy Vilela has entered 2022’s primary for District 1 as a progressive challenge to the establishment-backed Titus.

Touting her efforts for the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2020 and, more recently, an endorsement from progressive Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, Vilela posted nearly $82,000 in second-quarter fundraising, with almost $58,000 cash on hand. 

All of that fundraising came from individual contributions, and all came through the online Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue. As a result, much of her fundraising came from out-of-state. Of 56 unique contributors to Vilela’s campaign, just 10 listed a Nevada address.

Vilela reported just $23,300 in spending, with almost all of it dedicated to operating expenses, including $2,500 spent on consulting. 

Mark Amodei (R) - incumbent

As he has continued to leave the door open for a possible run at the governor’s mansion, Republican incumbent Mark Amodei nearly outspent his fundraising through the second quarter, burning through more than $88,000 of the $90,000 raised, leaving roughly $325,500 cash on hand. 

Outside one $2,900 contribution from Cashell Enterprises CEO Rob Cashell Jr., most of Amodei’s major donations came from PACs or corporate donors. That includes $5,000 from Las Vegas Sands, $5,000 from the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, and $2,500 each from NV Energy, the American Bakers Association, construction materials company CalPortland and the law firm Holland & Hart. 

Some of Amodei’s spending went to a number of contributions to other Republican incumbents, including $1,000 each for Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson, New York Rep. Claudia Tenney, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, and California Rep. David Valadao. 

However, Amodei also spent large sums on consulting ($37,500) and “contributor relations” expenses ($15,400). 

One other candidate, Democrat Aaron Michael Sims, formed a campaign committee in the second quarter but did not file a campaign finance report as of Friday morning.

Rep. Steven Horsford posts $570,000 in second quarter fundraising as 2022 campaigns ramp up

Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford announced more than $570,000 in second quarter fundraising Thursday, an amount that lifted his campaign war chest to nearly $1.2 million with less than a year left before Nevada’s 2022 primary election. 

The sum is the most Horsford has raised in an off-year fundraising period and roughly $150,000 more than he raised in the same quarter in 2019. Still, it falls short of the nearly $634,000 he raised in the third quarter of last year

The announcement comes ahead of the Federal Election Commission’s quarterly filing deadline next week, which will provide the first tangible signs of early campaign efforts ahead of next year’s midterms. 

Horsford represents the sprawling 4th Congressional District, which includes large portions of urban Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, as well as parts of the state’s far-flung rural interior. 

Horsford’s seat will be among just a handful nationwide that may determine control of the U.S. House next year, as Republicans seek to expand gains made in 2020 in competitive suburban districts not unlike District 4. 

Two Republicans — Sam Peters, who finished second in 2020’s District 4 primary, and Carolina Serrano, a former Trump campaign staffer — and one non-partisan, John Johnson, have also filed to run for District 4. 

Horsford won his 2020 reelection bid by 4.9 percentage points, by far the narrowest of any of his three electoral victories in that district. Horsford first won the seat in 2012 by 8 percentage points before losing it to Republican Cresent Hardy two years later in an election that otherwise saw Republicans elevated to nearly every major office in Nevada. 

He retook the seat in 2018, by 8.2 points, after incumbent Democrat Ruben Kihuen declined to run for re-election amid a sexual misconduct investigation by the House Ethics Committee. 

Voter registration statistics for District 4 favor Democrats, 38 percent to 30 percent Republican, with 32 percent registered nonpartisan or other. However, these statistics will likely change after state lawmakers redraw district lines later this year. 

Rep. Steven Horsford announces $363,000 in first quarter fundraising

The campaign for Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford announced $363,000 in first-quarter fundraising Tuesday, an amount that lifts his campaign war chest to more than $750,000 through the first three months of the midterm election cycle. 

Those total receipts exceed the $309,000 Horsford raised in the first quarter of 2020, though it falls slightly short of the $370,000 he raised in the same time period in 2019. It also comes a distant second to funds raised by fellow Southern Nevada Democrat Susie Lee, whose campaign announced yesterday that she had raised more than $600,000 through the first quarter. 

Even so, the three-quarters of a million Horsford now maintains in cash on hand is more than double the $309,000 he had at this point last cycle. 

Horsford’s campaign touted in a release Tuesday that more than 1,240 donors contributed to his fundraising last quarter, with a median donation of just $10. Still, ahead of the public filing of campaign finance reports later this week with the Federal Election Commission, it is unclear how much of his fundraising came from PACs or other major donors. 

Horsford was originally elected to represent District 4 — which includes the northern half of metropolitan Las Vegas as well as a handful of counties in the state’s rural center — in 2012, following the district’s creation in a year prior. 

After losing the seat to Republican Cresent Hardy in 2014, Horsford returned in 2018 after incumbent Democrat Ruben Kihuen declined to run for re-election amid allegations of sexual harassment. 

Horsford won re-election last year by a margin of 4.9 percentage points over former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, his narrowest margin of victory in the district so far. That margin, coupled with Republican victory in the district in 2014, will likely once again mark Horsford’s seat as one of several dozen targets for Republicans eager to take control of the House in 2022. 

Clark County Commission appoints public health advocate, nonprofit executive to fill vacant legislative seats

The Assembly chambers on Friday, July 31, 2020 during the first day of the 32nd Special Session of the Legislature in Carson City.

Clark County commissioners have appointed a UNLV graduate and public health advocate, Fabian Doñate, to fill a vacant state Senate seat, and nonprofit executive Tracy Marie Brown-May to fill a vacant Assembly seat.

Fabian Doñate (Image courtesy of Clark County)

The commission unanimously appointed Doñate during its meeting on Tuesday to take over the vacant state Senate seat for District 10, after the Senate Democratic Caucus recommended him for the position. He replaces Yvanna Cancela, who was elected to a four-year term in 2018 but resigned in early January to take a position in the Biden administration

“Fabian’s experience in public health will help guide us in making sound public policy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said in a statement after the appointment was made. “Fabian has deep ties to his community. As the son of immigrants and Culinary Union members, he understands the challenges working families face and the need to expand access to quality, affordable, health care.”

Tracy Brown-May (Image courtesy of Clark County)

The commission also chose Brown-May, the director of advocacy, board and government relations for the nonprofit Opportunity Village, to fill the seat in the Assembly District 42. The seat was vacated by Democrat Alexander Assefa after he resigned last month amid a criminal investigation. 

“We are all too aware of the hardships our families are facing and I’m humbled to be trusted to help lead our families towards a healthy and economic recovery,” Brown-May said in a statement. “I do not take this charge lightly and I am ready to put my years of experience advocating for people with disabilities to work immediately.”

Under state law, the county commission is designated to select a replacement lawmaker of the same political party who resides in the district to carry out the remainder of Cancela’s term. In 2017, Cancela was appointed by the commission to fill the vacated state Senate seat of Ruben Kihuen, who left the Legislature to run for Congress.

The appointments fill out the roster of the state’s 63-member Legislature, which gaveled in to its 120-day session Monday with the two positions still vacant.

Doñate is a native of Las Vegas and an alumnus of the UNLV School of Public Health and recently earned a Master's degree in health administration at the University of Maryland. 

In his application, Doñate described his experiences advocating for health policies during the pandemic and throughout his graduate degree.

“Given the disparities that have been intensely magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve spent these past few months at the forefront of this crisis,” the application reads. “Under the supervision of LifeBridge Health, a health system in the Baltimore region, I completed a graduate internship that provided me with the contextual knowledge on crafting evidence-based strategies with the inclusion of policy and technology to improve the public’s health.”

Doñate, a Latino who resides in District 10, seeks to improve the district’s health care and racial disparities exasperated by the pandemic for a “‘healthier’ Nevada.”

“This vacancy was my call to action, and I’m eager to represent my district during this tumultuous period in our state’s history,” Doñate said in his application letter. “Now more than ever, Nevada needs a diverse cohort of leaders that can help guide our state into recovery.”

Brown-May said in her application for the position that she’s lived in the Las Vegas valley for nearly 30 years, including three years in District 42 — an area that includes Flamingo Road from Durango Drive to the I-15. 

For the past two decades, she has supported and advocated for the community on a local and federal level. She’s worked at Opportunity Village since 2001, and helped found two nonprofits that help people with disabilities.

“I have participated in the legislative process and understand the hard work that goes into effectuating positive change,” Brown-May said in her application. “I am most proud of the times when common ground can be found to create positive solutions for the majority.”

Former regent, political operatives among 19 candidates seeking to fill state Senate vacancy

The Legislature on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020 during the third day of the 32nd Special Session in Carson City.

A total of 19 individuals, including a former member of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, have applied to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Democrat Yvanna Cancela weeks before the start of the 2021 Legislature.

The applications will go before the Clark County Commission during its Feb. 2 meeting. The board is designated under state law to select a replacement lawmaker of the same political party who resides in the district to carry out the remainder of Cancela’s term.

Cancela, elected to a four-year term in 2018, resigned in early January to take a position in the Biden administration. She was appointed by the commission to fill the vacated state Senate seat of Ruben Kihuen, who left the Legislature to run for Congress.

Two applications were not accepted — one was not properly notarized, and another was filed by a registered Republican.

Senate District 10 covers portions of the Las Vegas Strip and is considered safely Democratic, given the disparity in voter registration between the two major political parties.

Among the candidates:

  • Melissa Clary, who ran unsuccessfully in 2019 for the Las Vegas City Council seat now held by Olivia Diaz, has worked at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and at the Las Vegas Planning Department
  • Greg Esposito, a lobbyist who has worked as a campaign manager and supported a range of ballot initiative campaigns
  • Keenan Korth, who has worked for the Clark County Education Association teacher’s union, as well as the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and progressive congressional candidate Amy Vilela
  • Lisa Levine, a former staffer for Rep. Dina Titus who was appointed by the governor and served as a regent for the Nevada System of Higher Education.
  • Hergit Llenas, who has worked as a national director of Latino outreach for the American Federation for Children, a school choice group
  • Heather Harmon, deputy director of the Nevada Museum of Art
  • Adriana Martinez, a former chairwoman of the Nevada State Democratic Party

Other applicants for the seat include:

  • Elisabeth Apcar, a handbag designer.
  • Sergio Bustos, a UNLV student
  • John Delibos, who has been president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Southern Nevada
  • Fabian Donate, a graduate intern at LifeBridge Health
  • David Lopez, who has been a Las Vegas parks commissioner
  • Stephanie Molina, a researcher at UNLV
  • Jonathan Norman, an attorney at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada
  • John Ruse, a real estate investor
  • Dorian Stonebarger, a policy adviser for Las Vegas City Councilman Brian Knudsen
  • Kai Tao, who has worked as a hedge fund manager
  • Erik Van Houten, who teaches AP government at Equipo Academy
  • Marc Wiley, a retired police officer

Updated on Jan. 20, 2021 at 8:42 a.m. to include that an additional applicant had submitted paperwork to the Clark County election officials.

Clark County Commission candidate accused of campaign finance violations, says issues weren’t ‘on purpose’

Democrat Ross Miller’s Clark County Commission campaign has filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office accusing Republican opponent Stavros Anthony of “numerous campaign finance violations,” but Anthony’s campaign says they are correcting errors.

The complaint alleging illegal transfers and larger-than-allowed contributions comes a week before Election Day and brings a new twist to the race for the District C seat on the commission. Third quarter campaign finance reports were due for both candidates on Oct. 15, and Miller said his team noticed “issues” with his opponent’s contributions when those came out.

“When I was secretary of state and chief elections officer, and I got those complaints, I would investigate them fully, and if we found violations, refer them to the attorney general’s office for prosecution,” Miller said on Tuesday. “And I think that’s what any member of the public would expect to see.”

Las Vegas City Councilman Anthony’s campaign says that any violations that occurred in managing finances were just mistakes.

“None of [the issues in] Ross Miller's complaint, none of it’s nefarious, none of it's on purpose, they're very simple things that we'll take care of immediately,” said Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, Anthony’s campaign manager.

The secretary of state’s office declined to comment on the complaint, saying it was “under review.”

The high-spending race is the only contest for the commission this year featuring well-funded candidates from both major parties. Both candidates have previously held high-profile office — Miller, son of former Gov. Bob Miller, was Nevada’s secretary of state, and Anthony was chairman of the Board of Regents. Anthony was appointed mayor pro tem for the city of Las Vegas in July.

Miller’s complaint pointed to two kinds of violations it said were made by Anthony’s campaign: finance limits and transparency provisions. 

The limit for contributions from a single donor to a campaign in a single election is $10,000, broken up into $5,000 for the primary election and $5,000 more if the candidate goes on to compete in the general election. A donor or candidate who knowingly violates this limit can be charged with a felony.

The first discrepancy the Miller complaint references involves two incidents of single donors contributing more than the $10,000 limit. A donor identified as “California Hope Trust” had three reported contributions to Anthony with two different addresses listed. The first donation was made in April 2019 under a Las Vegas address for $5,000. Two more contributions made using a California address occurred in July 2019 and August 2020, totaling $15,000.

The second donor was Ed Bozarth Nevada #1 Chevrolet, an auto dealer located in Las Vegas. Bozarth’s first donation to Anthony was made in March 2019 for $10,000, and Bozarth made a second donation in September 2020 for $5,000.

Mayo-DeRiso says that Anthony’s campaign will “correct that.”

“Essentially, we'll have to return that money. And if the donors decide that they want to still support Stavros they would have to write checks from a different entity,” she said. “And we're fine with that.”

Miller’s complaint said that returning the money wouldn’t be enough as the campaign had already “reaped the benefits” of the excess funding.

“These funds were likely already utilized by his current campaign and Mr. Anthony and these contributors have already reaped the benefits of excess funds to illegally persuade voters. These offenses cannot therefore be simply corrected by simply requiring Mr. Anthony to return excess funds,” Miller said in the complaint.

Another transaction that the Miller campaign submitted to the secretary of state for review was a $90,888 donation made by “Stavros Anthony for Congress c/o Battle Born Liberty PAC” in May 2019. The complaint claimed that the Stavros Anthony for Congress campaign fund “never existed,” but Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filings show that Anthony’s congressional campaign fund was converted into the Battle Born Liberty PAC after Anthony dropped out of the race for Nevada’s Congressional District 4 seat in 2018.

The secretary of state determined in 2019 that candidates can legally bulk transfer campaign funds from federal accounts after former Rep. Ruben Kihuen transferred $160,000 from his former congressional campaign account to his Las Vegas City Council campaign account.

Kihuen’s account had not converted into a PAC before the transfer, whereas Battle Born Liberty PAC is classified as a multicandidate PAC which would typically be subject to donation limitations.

Anthony’s commission campaign also reported a $10,000 donation from Battle Born Liberty PAC in January 2019. Miller’s complaint points out that multiple donors who made contributions to Anthony’s campaign also made donations to the Battle Born Liberty PAC, which would, in total, put them beyond the $10,000 donation limit to Anthony’s campaign.

Miller’s complaint also accused the Republican candidate of “commingling” campaign funds based on a $100,000 transfer Anthony made from his “Stavros Anthony for City Council Account” in September 2020.

“He’s obviously financed his campaign at this point with huge sums of money that are illegal, and the public should take that into account,” Miller said. “Whatever remaining voters are left out there, this is the kind of activity they would want to look at.”

The complaint also claimed Anthony was violating transparency procedures. Campaigns are required to list the name, address and date of donation for all donors who contribute more than $100. In Anthony’s quarter three filing, 19 donors had addresses listed merely as “requested.”

Anthony’s campaign said that this was a “download error” and that they had already been in touch with the secretary of state’s office to amend the filing to include those details.

This is not the first time Miller has openly criticized his opponent. After winning the Democratic primary in June, Miller referred to Anthony as a “Trump crony,” and earlier this year he condemned the councilman on Twitter for saying that “violent rioters” should be held at Jean prison following a Black Lives Matter protest.

Mayo-DeRiso said that the complaint is a political move by the Miller campaign to get more attention in the final days before the election.

“It’s seven days before the election. Ross Miller has had a pretty anemic campaign. We actually never see him out anywhere in the district while we're campaigning,” she said. “And, you know, there's the old ‘October surprise.’”

Election Preview: Rep. Steven Horsford looks to hold off challenge from Jim Marchant in Congressional District 4

In the absence of a statewide race at the top of Nevada’s 2020 ballot, many eyes have fallen to a pair of competitive congressional races that could play a role in deciding which party takes control of the House come November. 

In District 4, incumbent Democrat Steven Horsford has run a re-election race that has largely ignored a challenge from former one-term Republican Assemblyman Jim Marchant, a staunch pro-Trump conservative who’s sought to pressure Horsford on the issues and on character.

In the ads with the most money behind them — and consequently the widest reach — the Horsford campaign has largely held to a positive tone that’s praised his work on Capitol Hill, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a TV ad launched late last month, his only major ad buy so far this cycle, Horsford touted his role in passing federal coronavirus relief in March, with a testimonial from a local business praising him for securing Paycheck Protection Program loans for Nevada businesses. 

Steven Horsford waiving to a crowd
Steven Horsford, who won the race for Nevada's 4th Congressional District, speaks during the Nevada Democratic Party election night event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

The congressman’s online messaging, most notably on Facebook, has more directly challenged Marchant’s bid, though it has done so without ever naming him. Calling him “my Republican opponent,” “my far-right opponent” or often simply “my opponent,” Horsford’s online ads have criticized Marchant’s links to the Freedom Caucus — an evolution of the old Tea Party movement in the House — and his endorsements from groups such as the National Rifle Association. 

Horsford also has frequently used the specter of Republican PAC money as his own fundraising driver, accusing “GOP outside dark money groups” of spending more than $1 million “to spread deceitful ads across Nevada.”

Still, these online ads likely comprise a small portion of Horsford’s overall spending, according to data available through Facebook’s Ad Library. Most individual online ads have been boosted by less than $100 in spending, and the campaign spent just $807 on Facebook ads over the last week. 

Horsford has maintained a sizable lead in the money race, raising more than $3 million cumulatively and entering the final weeks of the election with roughly $1.5 million cash on hand, according to his campaign. 

Marchant has generally lagged behind Horsford’s fundraising, though by how much will remain unknown until campaign finance reports are released on Oct. 15. Through the second quarter, Marchant’s campaign had cumulatively tallied roughly $646,000, of which about $143,000 remained in cash on hand. 

After emerging from the largest competitive primary field in any Nevada congressional race, Marchant has since repeatedly criticized Horsford for being “too far left,” especially on the issue of reforming police departments in the wake of the George Floyd protests this summer. 

Republican congressional candidate Jim Marchant at a rally in support of law enforcement organized by the Nevada Republican Party on Thursday, July 30, 2020 outside the Legislature in Carson City.
Republican congressional candidate Jim Marchant at a rally in support of law enforcement organized by the Nevada Republican Party on Thursday, July 30, 2020 outside the Legislature in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Endorsed by police unions, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and President Trump himself, Marchant has attacked Horsford for being a “radical leftist” and sought to link him to efforts by activists to defund local police departments. 

Police funding remains tied to state and local dollars, however, and members of Congress exert little pressure over such local public safety spending. An ideological analysis by the website Govtrack rates Horsford slightly left of the ideological median among Democrats, but still to the right of representatives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Rep. Rashida Tlaib, based on bills he sponsored or co-sponsored in 2019. 

Marchant’s campaign also has more recently sought to raise the issue of an affair Horsford admitted to earlier this year between himself and a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid, Gabriela Linder.

Linder first revealed the affair, which she says went on twice — between 2009 and 2010 and 2017 and 2019 — under a pseudonym on a podcast in April. Her identity was later revealed in May by the Review-Journal, after which Horsford confirmed that the affair took place. 

While Marchant’s messaging has tiptoed around the affair itself — one ad proclaims the congressman’s sex life is “none of our business” — it has targeted the ethical implications of the entire episode. 

Namely, Marchant and his Republican allies have seized on a story first reported by the Nevada Current in July that Horsford had paid an unknown amount to Linder using money from his own company, Resources +. 

Horsford’s office denied any ethical wrongdoing, and told the Current that the money did not exceed limits placed on him by House rules. 

News of the affair did little to stop Horsford’s renomination earlier this year in an uncompetitive Democratic primary in which Horsford won more than 75 percent of the vote. Still, it remains unclear how the re-emergence of the issue in Republican messaging may influence voters in the general election, especially in the context of the wider 2020 election, the race for the White House and the complications of voting in the middle of a pandemic.

District 4 at a glance

Nevada’s newest congressional district, District 4 was carved out following re-apportionment from the 2010 census. Among the largest districts in the country by area, its geographically sprawling boundaries encompass both parts of Clark County, including North Las Vegas, as well as a handful of the counties in the state’s rural center, including Nye, White Pine and Lincoln counties. 

With sizable populations of both Black and Hispanic voters in Clark County, District 4 has often — though not always — tilted toward Democrats. Voter registration figures show Democrats lead Republicans 41 percent to 31 percent, with another 21.8 percent of voters registered as non-partisans. 

Horsford, at the time a state senator, was the first to win the district, taking the seat in 2012 by a margin of 8 points over perennial Republican contender Danny Tarkanian. Horsford would later be upset in the 2014 midterms, when Mesquite-area Assemblyman Cresent Hardy won the seat by roughly 2.7 percentage points as part of a wave of Republican victories statewide. 

Democrats flipped the seat once more in 2016, this time with then-State. Sen. Ruben Kihuen, who defeated Hardy by 4 points as Democrats statewide rode to victory in a number of key competitive races. 

But following revelations in late 2017 that Kihuen had sexually harassed a campaign staffer, the incumbent’s decision to forgo a reelection bid in 2018 opened the door for a return for Horsford, who had spent his years outside office working at his own public relations and consulting firm. 

Horsford went on to win easily in 2018’s “blue wave,” besting Hardy in a rematch of the 2014 race by roughly 8.2 percentage points. 

Outside observers have generally forecast a strong edge for Democrats in District 4 based on both demographics and historical voting trends. The Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia Center for Politics rate the district as “Likely Democratic,” while FiveThirtyEight rates the race as “Lean Democratic.”

What to watch in the 2020 primary election: Congressional District 4

A hand arranging "I voted" stickers on a table

As the presidential caucus has drifted into the past and with no statewide offices up for grabs in 2020, a pair of hotly contested congressional primaries on June 9 may draw battle lines for the coming push by the major parties to take or keep control of the House in November. 

That includes District 4, which early on drew a wide field of Republican challengers hoping to flip the seat away from Democrat Steven Horsford. The district, with a large Democratic registration advantage and rated “Likely Democratic” by the Cook Political Report, has for years been held as the tougher of Nevada’s two swing-districts to pry away from Democrats as the GOP looks to retake control of the House. 

That may have changed over the weekend, after Horsford acknowledged Friday carrying on a years-long extramarital affair with a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. That intern, Gabriela Linder, revealed the relationship in a podcast, and Horsford later issued a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal confirming the relationship.

The admission has upended the political assumptions surrounding the race so far, and some Republican strategists and candidates now see 2020 as the best opportunity to flip the seat in the last four years. 

Horsford has already drawn fire from the wide field of Republican hopefuls looking to unseat him, and some have called on him to be investigated or to resign his seat altogether. At least two Democrats running against him called on him to drop out of the race.

But with no well-funded or well-organized primary challengers on the June ballot, Horsford will likely avoid a referendum on the issue until November. And, among Republicans, the race to take on Horsford remains wide open. Five candidates have mounted well-funded operations, with three more hoping for an outside shot at a spot on the November ballot. 

The Republican Primary

The Republican Primary for District 4 is the most crowded field for any major race in the state in 2020, boasting eight candidates on the June ballot. Among them, five have emerged as relatively well-funded efforts, with three more running smaller campaigns with far longer odds at victory.

And though the Republican field has so-far avoided direct attacks — so, too, have they rushed to occupy a similar ideological space in the era of the Trump White House. 

Jim Marchant, a former one-term Republican assemblyman, staked a claim early on as a conservative stalwart who could oppose Horsford in a general election. In advertising and online, he has touted positive ratings from The American Conservative Union and National Rifle Association and claimed that “the liberal media can’t stand him.”

He’s also sought to draw a close line between himself and Trump, frequently praising the administration and even circulating a gif of himself standing nearby the president after he flew into a Nevada air base for a visit in February. 

Marchant has frequently led the fundraising push over the last year, raising more than $100,000 through the first quarter of 2020 and entering the final run to the primary with roughly $231,000 cash on hand. That number was buoyed early on in 2019 by more than $110,000 in loans to his campaign, though his campaign has since shifted to a reliance on individual donors.  

He has also received key endorsements from high-profile House conservatives, including Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan — all leaders of the House Freedom Caucus. An outgrowth of the old Tea Party movement, the Freedom Caucus has provided a political force for the party’s conservative wing for half-a-decade, and in recent years has moved in lockstep with the Trump White House. 

But Marchant is not alone in his quest to prove himself as the “right” conservative for District 4. 

Lisa Song Sutton, a former Miss Nevada who now runs her own business in Las Vegas, has stayed neck and neck with Marchant in the fundraising race. Song Sutton entered the home stretch of the campaign with $198,000 on hand, and boasted of having raised it all through individual donors and without candidate loans. 

Running on a platform largely centered around the core GOP platform, including the protection of the 2nd Amendment, opposition to abortion and increased border security, Song Sutton has also prominently added the economic impact of the coronavirus to her personal platform. 

Calling dependence on overseas manufacturing “dangerous,” Song Sutton’s website notes that she “stand[s] ready to help President Trump rebuild the economy and support the America First agenda.”

Though her single most prominent endorsement has come from Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Song Sutton has also received nods from a handful of state and local Republicans, including Las Vegas City Councilwomen Michele Fiore and Victoria Seaman and former state GOP Chair Amy Tarkanian.

Last among the top fundraisers is Sam Peters, an insurance agent and veteran who has been endorsed by the likes of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, conservative musician Ted Nugent and local conservative talk radio host Wayne Allyn Root.  

Though FEC filings show Peters has raised more than $254,000 through his entire campaign, he began to lag behind Marchant and Song Sutton in the early part of 2020, raising just over $62,000, spending $90,000 and ending the quarter with just $60,000 on hand.  

Asking voters to help him “fight the swamp” in Washington, D.C., Peters has prioritized the issues of the federal budget and immigration on his platform, calling for, among other things,  a balanced budget amendment and proposing an 11-point plan aimed at “ending illegal immigration.”

Peters also appears to be one of few candidates who have continued to campaign in-person into the pandemic, sharing several selfies this month of visits to a reopening rally in Mesquite and a campaign stop in Pahrump

Nipping at the heels of the top three fundraisers are another two campaigns, those of businesswoman Randi Reed and former congressional staffer and veteran Charles Navarro, who entered the final weeks of the campaign with roughly $27,000 and $24,000 on hand, respectively. 

Branding her campaign with her nickname, “The Fury,” Reed has also mounted a campaign centered around the core party platform, including gun rights, immigration and health care. But amid the coronavirus, Reed has also taken aim at China, calling the virus “China’s Chernobyl” and pushing for a greater separation between the American and Chinese economies.

Touting his time in the Navy and his work as a former re-entry manager for faith-based organization Hope for Prisoners, Navarro has, unlike his rivals, elevated the issues of public lands and education on his platform, amid other calls for reforms to the Medicare, Social Security and criminal justice systems. 

There also are several cash-strapped campaigns, including that of Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo, businesswoman Rebecca Wood and self-described entrepreneur Rosalie Bingham. 

All have raised less than $10,000 through the first quarter of 2020, but all have continued to actively promote their campaigns online as they look to distinguish their efforts ahead of June 9. 

About District 4

District 4’s massive geographic boundaries are bigger than some U.S. states, encompassing not just parts of the Las Vegas metro area like Northwest Las Vegas and the City of North Las Vegas, but also a handful of the state’s rural counties, including Nye, White Pine and Lincoln Counties.

That geographic composition has created a balance of voters where the urban and suburban voters of Las Vegas often outweigh the rural voters to their north. All told, 40.8 percent of voters in the district are registered Democrats, while 31.4 percent are registered Republicans and 21.9 percent are registered non-partisans. 

That distribution of voters has created a predominantly Democratic stronghold over the four election cycles since the district was created in 2012. Horsford, then the state Senate majority leader, won the seat’s inaugural election with just over 50 percent of the vote, defeating Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian. 

But amid a historically low voter turnout in the 2014 year’s midterms, Horsford would lose re-election by nearly 3 percentage points to Republican legislator Cresent Hardy. A coup for Republicans in a year where the party swept state, federal and local races up and down the ballot, Hardy’s election would nonetheless be the last GOP victory in District 4.

In 2016, Democratic state legislator Ruben Kihuen bested Hardy by roughly 4 points, contributing to a near-total Democratic sweep of the closely contested federal offices that year alongside victories in the Senate and neighboring District 3. 

Kihuen was forced to abandon a re-election bid in 2018, however, amid sexual misconduct allegations. But as his name and station become another entry among a long list of alleged sexual impropriety on Capitol Hill amid the escalating #MeToo movement, he resisted pushes to resign his post — which ranged from fellow Nevada Democrat Jacky Rosen all the way to then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

When the House later convened an ethics panel to review his conduct, Kihuen bowed out of the race and promised not to launch a reelection bid — an exit that would provide an opportunity for Horsford to reenter the seat that launched his congressional career six years earlier. 

Fending off a handful of primary challengers in the open contest to replace Kihuen on the Democratic ticket, Horsford would eventually beat Hardy — the Republican nominee for the third cycle in a row — by more than 8 percentage points, as he once again garnered more than 50 percent of the vote.  

Horsford has since kept a low electoral profile among the state’s congressional delegation. With his seat more difficult to flip than Rep. Susie Lee’s to the south, national Republicans have so far avoided pumping money and advertising into his district like they have in. 

And among Democrats, Horsford has so-far skirted through 2020 without the need to actively campaign, amassing nearly $1.2 million in cash on hand along the way as he looked toward November. 

He has since begun to take fire from his Democratic rivals, who have joined Republicans in the district in calling for Horsford to be investigated or step out of the race amid the revelation of his extramarital affair.

Whether or not those calls will amount to anything beyond campaign rhetoric, however, remains to be seen.  

For a full breakdown of every race in the 2020 primaries, visit our Election 2020 page. 

Rep. Horsford, who has campaigned as a family man, acknowledges extramarital affair

Steven Horsford speaking at a podium

Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford, who describes himself on his re-election website as a “devoted family man,” has acknowledged that he had an extramarital affair that spanned years after a woman detailed a relationship that started a decade ago when she was 21 and he, at 36, was the highest-ranking senator in the Legislature.

The admission comes as the woman, first identified by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as Gabriela Linder, is releasing a series of six-minute podcasts called “Mistress for Congress” detailing the circumstances of an affair. She initially identified the subject with the pseudonym “Bob” but recently revealed that her account was about Horsford. 

"It is true that I had a previous consensual relationship with another adult outside of my marriage, over the course of several years,” Horsford said in a statement provided to The Nevada Independent. “I'm deeply sorry to all of those who have been impacted by this very poor decision, most importantly my wife and family. Out of concern for my family during this challenging time, I ask that our privacy is respected."

In her podcast, Linder said she met Horsford in 2009 when she was a 21-year-old intern for Sen. Harry Reid and Horsford was a state senator. She said they began a sexual relationship that lasted for about a year and a half, but kept in touch afterwards and resumed the affair from 2017 to 2019, a timeline that overlaps with Horsford’s second term in Congress that began in 2019.

Linder said her podcast series “isn't some revenge campaign to destroy Steven,” who she said she was in love with, but rather an attempt to tell “my truth.” She does think he should step away from elected office, though.

“Did he cause me a lot of harm? Yes. Do I believe he needs to do some atoning? Absolutely,” she said on the podcast. “Do I believe he needs to step out of public office for some time to do that atoning? Yes.”

Linder has not responded to requests sent Saturday for an interview. Horsford’s office did not make him available for an interview on Saturday or directly address a question about whether he plans to proceed with his ongoing campaign amid calls for him to step aside, although his office did say "this former personal relationship has no bearing on the Congressman’s ability to fight for the people of Nevada and he fully intends to serve them in this Congress, and beyond."

Horsford is seeking re-election to the 4th Congressional District seat, which encompasses North Las Vegas and large segments of rural, central Nevada. Horsford ran for the seat in 2018 after former Rep. Ruben Kihuen opted to not run for re-election amid multiple reports of sexual harassment.

While the district has a comfortable Democratic registration advantage and Horsford has not attracted formidable challengers in the ongoing primary, a large field of Republicans hopes to run against him in the general election.

At least one of those Republican candidates, Lisa Song Sutton, is calling for a House ethics investigation into whether any taxpayer dollars were used in commission of an affair. 

Linder indicated on her podcast that Horsford had offered financial support over the years, although Horsford’s office says that neither his House office nor the campaign had provided Linder compensation.

Another candidate for the seat, Republican Sam Peters, called for a “full investigation” on his Facebook page and said it was “time to remove this loser from Congress!” Democrat Brie D’Ayr said it’s time to elect a woman to the seat, arguing that “you can’t give it 100% if you’re constantly distracted by issues that have nothing to do with the job of making your constituents’ lives better.”

Linder’s account of events places the beginning of the affair at the height of Horsford’s eight-year legislative career — when he was Senate majority leader from 2009 to 2012. 

Years later, he would face questions about what he knew and whether he took enough action in that leadership role to intervene in the case of Mark Manendo, a longtime state senator who was found in 2017 to have violated harassment policies for activities ranging from unwanted sexual advances to harassing conduct during numerous legislative sessions.

In an interview in 2017, Horsford declined to comment on some specifics of his dealings with Manendo. But he argued for systemic improvements in workplaces.

“This is a moment and it’s a moment we need to reflect on and more importantly fix things that are broken,” he said in an interview. “There needs to be a process that’s independent, that’s fair, that allows people to come forward. People shouldn’t have to go to their boss alone to file a complaint and be heard — there needs to be a better code of conduct and ethics.

Horsford describes himself on his campaign website as “a devoted family man” who “has built a strong family.” His Twitter accounts feature family photos and remarks supportive of his wife, a university professor.

Facing criticism for maintaining a home just outside of Washington D.C., he told The Nevada Independent in 2018 that he did so so he could have meals with his family and attend his three school-age children’s activities during the work week. His own father was killed in an episode of gun violence when he was 19.

“I know what it’s like to grow up without a father. And it is very important to me that I always am there to be present and to provide for my kids,” he said.

Horsford, a longtime director of the Culinary Academy workforce training organization, was elected to the state Senate in 2004 and held its top post for the 2009 and 2011 legislative sessions.

He served as co-chair of President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in Nevada and did stints as a Democratic national committeeman and as vice chairman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a fundraising entity.

He won a race for Nevada’s newly created 4th district in 2012 but lost the seat to Republican Cresent Hardy in the “red wave” of 2014. He started running his own business, Resources Plus, which provides public relations and consulting on workforce development strategies, skipped the 2016 cycle, and ran for the seat in 2018 when it became clear that Kihuen would not seek the role again.

In a debate in the 2018 election, Horsford said it bothered him that an ethics commission was taking months to present findings about the accusations and that Kihuen accusers wake up each morning still seeing him in office.

"It absolutely does, and that is why we should expect more of every elected official and every person in power,” he said. 

Updated at 6:48 p.m. on 5/16/20 to add comment about Horsford's future political plans.