96°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Henderson Mayor Debra March repays campaign for Panama trip

Henderson Mayor Debra March announced Monday she’d reimbursed her campaign for a trip to Panama detailed in a Review-Journal investigation of her spending published last week.

In a statement released through her campaign spokeswoman, Elizabeth Trosper, March denied wrongdoing but said she repaid the money “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Recent reports have called into question my campaign expenditures,” March said in the statement. “While I believe my actions were lawful and I reported every contribution and expenditure in compliance with the law, out of an abundance of caution I have reimbursed my campaign for all expenses related to a trip that included visitation to Panama.”

The statement adds: “This issue has been an unfortunate distraction and I regret any misunderstandings, but those who know me best know my intentions are always driven by serving my constituents. I would urge the Legislature to strengthen and clarify Nevada’s campaign finance laws to provide the public with greater transparency and clear guidance for those who seek to hold public office.”

March spent more than $1,800 on airfare and a vacation package for a trip to Panama with Sallie Doebler, vice president of corporate partnerships for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. March spent an additional $285 at a Panama City hotel, campaign finance records show.

March said Doebler planned the trip, but she paid for it, saying it related to campaigning because it was an opportunity to build a strong relationship with someone she described as an “influencer” who could help her network in the future. March said she also met with another mayor, who was visiting from Texas.

Doebler did not respond to the Review-Journal’s requests for comment earlier this month.

The explanations for the Panama trip changed as the Review-Journal investigated March’s finances.

Trosper said in a Feb. 1 email that charges related to the trip were for outreach efforts with the chamber, but Cara Clarke, the chamber’s vice president for communications, rejected that explanation, saying it had nothing to with chamber business.

“She was not representing the chamber in any way, shape or form on the trip, and it was not a part of any of our official business,” Clarke said.

Trosper later acknowledged the trip was not for chamber business.

“If the perception was given that this was a Metro Chamber trip, it was incorrect,” she said.

Clarke said Doebler used personal vacation time to take the trip, which, according to March’s city calendar, happened in September.

“Sallie and Mayor March, as we understand it, have been friends for several years,” Clarke said. “So we have no reason to believe that their trip would be anything other than personal friendship.”

Doebler posted photos of the Panama trip with March on her Twitter account but has since deleted them.

Clarke said the chamber’s government affairs team does build relationships with candidates and follows all government guidelines for doing so. Doebler is not on that team, however.

All told, the Review-Journal found March had spent more than $60,000 in 2018 on expenses including gasoline, restaurant meals, trips and “building relationships” with donors. She also said she’d spent money while helping other candidates with their campaigns, though several candidates said the mayor had not provided assistance.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Blake Apgar contributed to this story.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
THE LATEST
Back to school fair draws students, parents to Henderson mall

Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara was among those on hand at the event, which is designed to help parents and students get ready for the new school year. CCSD students go back to school on Aug. 12.

 
Henderson Hospital staff, patients reunited

Henderson Hospital celebrated its first anniversary by inviting all former neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) patients and their families to reunite.

Henderson among best places to retire for great weather

GOBankingRates determined the best places to retire with great weather by examining such things as home prices, average temperature and crime rate.

 
Henderson campaign highlight dangers of leaving kids in cars

Temperatures inside a car can reach 30 to 40 degrees above the outside temperatures, which poses a severe risk of heatstroke for children left inside cars, Henderson fire officials said.