FEC clears Bilbray-Kohn to continue work while running for Congress

WASHINGTON — Las Vegas political trainer Erin Bilbray-Kohn is a step closer to launching a bid for Congress after the Federal Election Commission ruled last week she could continue to work and draw pay as a consultant during a campaign.

The commission gave the green light after reviewing arrangements between Bilbray-Kohn and Emerge Nevada, an organization that trains women how to run for office. Bilbray-Kohn founded the group in 2006 and was its executive director but resigned this spring and then was hired as a part-time consultant.

Bilbray-Kohn, a national committeewoman for the Democratic Party and the daughter of former U.S. Rep. Jim Bilbray, is being courted to run against Republican Rep. Joe Heck in the 3rd Congressional District, which consists of Henderson, Boulder City, Laughlin and the unincorporated southern reaches of Clark County.

Bilbray-Kohn said she was “getting closer” to finalizing a decision in light of the FEC opinion that was issued Thursday. In an earlier interview she said she was “95 percent there.”

“Everyone I’ve talked to in my family and the party want me to run,” Bilbray-Kohn said. “I’m still thinking about what’s best for my daughters.” Bilbray-Kohn and her husband, Noah, a Las Vegas pediatrician, have two pre-teens.

Through Democratic attorneys, Bilbray-Kohn sought an FEC opinion that her consulting work would not run afoul of campaign laws. As a consultant, she said she is limited to training and does not raise money for Emerge Nevada nor have a voice in how it is spent. She promised not to use the group’s resources for campaign activities if she runs.

As full-time executive director, she was paid $9,000 a month. As a 20-hour per week consultant she is paid $5,000 a month plus $500 monthly to cover a portion of payroll taxes, telephone service and supplies.

Expecting Bilbray-Kohn to run, Republicans already have trained their sights on her.

“There are enough partisans in Washington parroting Nancy Pelosi’s rhetoric,” GOP spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said. “Erin Bilbray-Kohn is an out-of-touch political activist who has made her living playing politics.”

Review-Journal reporter Laura Myers contributed to this story. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.