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Secretary of State reaches agreement with candidate who used campaign funds improperly

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By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Las Vegas Assemblywoman Kathy McClain and Secretary of State Ross Miller reached an agreement today resolving a complaint that she inappropriately used campaign funds to pay for her Clark County retirement contributions while serving as a lawmaker.

McClain, D-Las Vegas, agreed to make a $7,276 personal contribution to Safe Nest, a Las Vegas nonprofit supporting abused women, to cover the cost of the contribution she had made in 2009 to the Public Employees Retirement System from her campaign fund.

McClain, who is running for an open state Senate seat, said she believed all along the use of her campaign fund for such a purpose was proper, and she disclosed the payment on her contribution and expense report.

“I’ve always taken full responsibility for my actions” she said. “I have consistently been open and forthright in reporting those actions. I’m pleased that the Secretary of State determined that there is ‘no evidence that . . . payments were made in bad faith.”

McClain disagrees with Miller’s view that the use of her campaign fund to pay retirement contributions is not allowable.

Miller has concluded such payments are a personal obligation and not related to service in the state Legislature. In a press release announcing the agreement, Miller said his view could be sustained at a trial despite her attorney’s views to the contrary.

Miller said the agreement will bring the issue to a close without incurring additional expense to the state.

Other expenses questioned in the review were not directly addressed in the announcement from Miller. McClain said the issues of health insurance and rent were deemed to be allowable. There was no mention in the agreement of a $5,002 payment to the PERS system in August 2005.

McClain, who retired from her Clark County job in January, said the donation will remove any suggestion she personally benefited from her campaign fund. McClain said she would also like to work to clarify the law to provide better guidance to elected officials.

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