Nevada lawmaker resigns amid campaign finance investigation

Assemblyman accused of misusing funds, not living in district he represents

Associated Press
January 13, 2021 - 5:09 am
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A Nevada lawmaker resigned amid an investigation involving the use of campaign contributions that prompted law enforcement to raid his home in May.

Las Vegas Assemblyman Alex Assefa tendered his resignation to Gov. Steve Sisolak on Monday in a letter that did not mention the investigation but addressed questions about whether his primary residence was in the Spring Valley district he represents.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in October that police in May had raided a North Las Vegas home owned by Assefa’s wife, and a Spring Valley condominium he listed as his residence in campaign filings.

Nevada law requires legislators live in the districts they represent. In his resignation letter, which was first reported by the Review-Journal, Assefa maintains that he initially misunderstood the law but later determined his residency violated it after deeper review.

“With great regret, and because I believe that lawmakers are bound to uphold the law and act with honesty and integrity, I must admit my mistake and resign my office,” he wrote in the letter, noting that he ran because of his ties to Spring Valley’s large Ethiopian community.

Charges have not yet been filed.

Assefa is the fourth Democratic state lawmaker to resign since 2017. Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson resigned in 2019 and pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges for using campaign contributions to open a Las Vegas nightclub and pay off credit card debt. The Legislature subsequently passed a bill to require more detailed reporting of campaign spending and prohibit candidates from using contributions to pay salaries to themselves.

The Clark County Commission is expected to replace Assefa and state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, who resigned to take a position in the Biden administration, before the Legislature reconvenes in February. Nevada law requires the commission replace lawmakers who resign before the end of their terms with members of the same party who reside in the district.