Updated March 19, 2019 - 10:00 pm
Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore failed to report at least $91,000 in tax liens the IRS filed against her and rental income from a house in Colorado on her Nevada Financial Disclosure Statements since she became an elected official, a Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation found.
When she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016, Fiore disclosed the Colorado house and rental income on her congressional Financial Disclosure Report, but the information did not appear on her state forms. Additionally, her federal forms did not report a trust or the tax debt, as Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation for elections watchdog group Common Cause, said should have been reported.
From 2012, when she was first elected to the state Assembly, to as recently as this year, Fiore did not disclose much of her financial dealings, including Internal Revenue Service tax liens, records show.
Fiore, a Republican, declined to discuss the omissions but wrote in an email that all of her disclosures are accurate and that she has no tax debt, trusts or property that she was required to report.
“Constituents in my district and my donors know the truth and are aware of my history in politics, as a businesswoman, and as an individual, this is why I was elected,” she wrote in a statement. “I have no secrets. There is nothing to find.”
But county records show unreleased tax debts, and other public records list the trusts and property she previously owned. That information should have been disclosed in the years the debt and property were hers, said Nevada Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Thorley.
“The disclosures let the public know of any potential conflicts of interest that the public officer may have,” he said. “It’s important that they are filled out and accurate so people can get a good sense of any financial benefits the officer is receiving … and (the candidate’s) financial dealings.”
The Nevada secretary of state investigated a complaint in 2015 about Fiore’s campaign spending, but any failure to disclose was not a part of that review. The secretary of state absolved her of any wrongdoing in the 2015 complaint.
The office fielded 11 complaints against other candidates in the past three years, records show. Seven of the complaints were about people who hadn’t filed a disclosure on time. Elections officials fined the candidates $100, but when the politician asked for an extension to file the records and fine waiver, it was granted in every case.
Two other complaints claimed that the candidate did not report income. In one of those cases, the disclosure was amended, and in the other, elections officials found no proof of a violation.
The final two were about candidates who said they lived in the district longer than they did. The secretary of state’s office said it did not have any information on how those were resolved.
In 2016, the Review-Journal asked Fiore about her failure to report the tax liens. But she did not amend her disclosures, and the secretary of state did not act on the story showing that she had failed to disclose tax debts.
“My paperwork is just peachy if it’s got the stamp of approval of my staff,” she told the Review-Journal at the time.
In divorce papers 10 years ago, Fiore blamed her ex-husband, George N. Kaime, for her tax problems. Fiore “discovered that between $500,000 and $700,000 in IRS federal tax liens were placed on the business during the time (her ex-husband) was running it,” a court filing stated. “These tax liens have carried over to Michele’s personal credit, and have ruined it.”
Kaime’s divorce lawyer, Bruce Shapiro, declined to comment.
Between 2011 and 2014, the IRS filed $102,000 in personal tax liens against Fiore, according to records at the Clark County recorder’s office. Only a 2009 lien for $10,686 was released as paid, the records show. None of the others had been released as of Monday.
Companies Fiore once ran still have more than $400,000 in active IRS liens, nearly $40,000 in state tax judgments and $13,000 in judgments for unpaid state unemployment insurance taxes, county records show. State employment authorities added to that number as recently as March 2018, documents show. State agencies and IRS representatives declined to comment, citing confidentiality rules.
State law requires candidates to report personal tax liens but not those filed against a company unless the business is a sole proprietorship, Thorley said.
Fiore ran for a Nevada congressional seat in 2016 but lost the Republican primary. While she listed herself in a federal disclosure as the CEO of the home health care company Always There 4 You, she did not disclose the tax liens against the company or her personally.
Ryan, of Common Cause, said federal law requires Fiore to disclose personal tax debts.
“Financial disclosures let the public watchdog conflicts of interests,” he said. “And if you want to be a public official, a baseline qualification is pay your taxes.”
Fiore did not explain why public records show active liens. She also did not respond to requests to provide records showing that the tax bills had been paid. County officials could not find records noting that the debts had been paid.
Fiore had two trusts that she did not report on her state and federal financial disclosures, records show.
Ryan said the trusts should have been disclosed in her federal forms. In those reports, Fiore disclosed a house she owned in Parker, Colo., and about $7,100 she received in rental income from that house.
Thorley said Nevada law required Fiore to also report the rental income on her state forms. She never did.
In 2010, after her divorce, Fiore took ownership of a house in Clark County that she kept in a trust.
In November 2016, she moved the house to a limited liability corporation called Prairie Homes, managed by Andrea Schulein, who Fiore said was a family friend and campaign worker. Attempts to reach Schulein were unsuccessful.
That year, Fiore moved into a rental house in the city’s Ward 6, where she successfully ran for City Council.
Once the Clark County house was no longer her primary residence, she was obligated to report it on her disclosure forms if she owned it, Thorley said. The state form requires candidates to list “specific locations and particular use of all real estate (other than personal residence).”
Records show she did not report the house.
In 2018, Prairie Homes sold the house for $400,000 to a nonprofit that is set up to provide affordable housing, according to county land records. Fiore signed the transfer deed on behalf of Prairie Homes.
But instead of refurbishing the home for low-income people, the nonprofit, Home Today Inc., flipped the property two months later for $450,000 to a California developer, records show. No one responded to messages left at telephone numbers for Home Today executives, and the group’s mailing address is a post office box at a UPS store in Henderson. Board members did not return calls or said they had no information about the deal.
A representative of the California developer who owns the house hung up when asked about the sale.
In her statement to the Review-Journal, Fiore did not address why she had moved the house to the LLC.
Real estate records show that it sold for less than the loans against it. Fiore also said she did not receive money from the sale of the home.