An Anonymous Email about Candidate Finances and a Cares Campus Whistleblower
The next This Is Reno candidate forum tonight is for County Commissioners which led us to look at some of the finances of the competitive District 3 Democratic primary. The Democratic primary winner will likely win the November runoff and replace outgoing Commissioner Kitty Jung, given the district’s voting demographics. All three candidates have been knocking on doors, getting different endorsements and hosting community events.
As we were looking into reports, we also got an anonymous email adding questions to our own search.
In terms of publicly posted first quarter donations, it’s neck and neck between the three candidates with Mariluz Garcia totaling $27,966 (including $2,897 in the below $100 contributions), Kyle Isacksen with $25,869 (including $4,583 in the lower donations) and Hawah Ahmad with $22,465 (including $2,598 of less than $100).
On her ledger, Garcia, a UNR employee notably got $5,000 from the coffers of Elect (councilman) Oscar Delgado and the same amount from Debra Cuddy, who is also generous with UNR’s College of Education and Human Development. Isacksen got $5,000 from Mark Herbert, a Midtown resident, and $4,002 from James Katz, who has a Brooklyn, NY, address. Ahmad, a lobbyist on contract with the Clark County Education Association and a former member of the Reno Youth City Council, received $2,500 from the SSAC Group and $2,000 from defense lawyer Kenneth Stover.
In part, the anonymous message found concerns with Isacksen for being featured in a Quaker publication called Friends Journal in 2016, as a proud tax resister. Isacksen told us most years of late he’s lived simply, below any taxable income. He said his stance in the article was in line with his war resistance and trying to live his life with his values and feeling “our government goes to war recklessly.” He said the Iraq war was “a debacle built on lies, on fabrication and political whims of those in power.”
The anonymous email also pointed to concerns about Garcia, and a March 31st fundraiser with Chuy’s restaurant at Rancharrah, where Delgado and fellow councilman Devon Reese were among the hosts. It asked whether that should have been included somewhere on the form in terms of in kind contributions or monetary expenses of over $100, and if all donations from that fundraiser had also been included.
The email also pointed out Garcia’s form lists a rental which appears to be an Airbnb called The Hobbit House. That property, the email pointed out, is listed on the county’s assessor’s form as a Low Cap Qualified Primary Residence. The email said Garcia’s financial disclosure form should also include income derived from Airbnb.
When queried, Garcia wrote back: “My March 31st event took place at Mari Chuy's at Rancharrah and a $2,000 check was submitted to Chuy on 4/5/2022 for the full amount. No in-kind donation was provided for this event. All donations received on the night of the 31st were reported during the first quarter and the Mari Chuy's expense will be reported during the second quarter.”
Concerning the Airbnb, Garcia wrote: “I listed it as a rental, which is the detail that I believe the disclosure requires. I will call the SOS [Secretary of State] today to ask for clarification and it will be amended if necessary.” She then followed up indicating “the SOS elections division” said an amended disclosure was not needed as it was already correct.
Our whistleblower expose about what it’s like behind the scenes at the Cares Campus, and subsequent photos of moldy bathrooms and clean up days got traction on all our social media. Current campus employees weighed in, promising it will get better. Others argued the warehouse concept is unmanageable and was met with warnings even before it opened about a year ago. People who currently sleep there have told us a sense of community is missing, and that staff seem overwhelmed, with a prevailing climate of fights, earning the compound the name “the zoo.”