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Complaint: Henderson constable didn’t properly disclose debt

Henderson Township Constable Earl Mitchell has a spotty pattern of disclosing to the public that the IRS is one of his creditors, records show.

The IRS filed a lien on the constable’s house for $53,599 owed in back taxes and penalties against Mitchell in July 2010. The lien, which remains unpaid, lists taxes, interest and penalties owed on income earned between 2003 and 2008.

It wasn’t until March 2014 that Mitchell listed the IRS as a creditor on his financial disclosure for candidates filed with the Nevada secretary of state. Under state law, a candidate or public officer must disclose the name of each creditor owed $5,000 or more.

Mitchell faces a complaint alleging he didn’t properly disclose the IRS debt. The complaint was filed last week with the secretary of state’s office by Joseph Pitts of Henderson. Pitts ran for the Democratic nomination for constable in the June primaries, losing to Terry Watson. Watson is running in the November election against Mitchell, a Republican.

The complaint, backed up by public records, says Mitchell didn’t list the IRS as a creditor on financial disclosure statements in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The IRS lien was recorded July 1, 2010; Mitchell filed his 2010 financial disclosure in January that year.

“I thought I was going to be running against Earl in the general election, but I still think he has to answer as a public official for these possible omissions,” Pitts said.

Mitchell declined to comment Monday, saying he hasn’t seen the complaint yet and wasn’t aware of it.

This year, Mitchell’s disclosures have been contradictory. His annual disclosure for elected officials filed in January doesn’t list the IRS as a creditor. But in March, when he filed the disclosure required for candidates, Mitchell disclosed the IRS as a creditor for the first time.

The secretary of state’s office received the complaint Friday but the elections deputy hasn’t yet had an opportunity to review it, said Catherine, Lu, spokeswoman for the office.

If the office determines creditors weren’t properly disclosed, the filer is required to amend the disclosure. A lack of disclosure can result in civil penalties of up to $2,000.

Mitchell’s IRS debt has grown. In June 2014, the IRS filed another lien against Mitchell’s property that seeks $165,002, covering a four-year period from 2009 through 2012.

Clark County commissioners voted in June to give the Henderson and North Las Vegas constables a set annual salary of $103,456, matching the salary of Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura.

Historically, constables outside of Las Vegas Township have paid themselves salaries from the fees they collect for services that include evictions and serving court papers.

Salary details have remained murky, despite constables being elected officials. At a County Commission meeting in June, Mitchell told commissioners he had earned about $120,000 last year. But his state financial disclosure for 2013 listed a salary of only $80,000. Mitchell later told a reporter he may have misunderstood the question.

Commissioners in March 2013 abolished the Las Vegas constable’s office after a variety of controversies with Bonaventura. The Metropolitan Police Department will take over that constable’s operation in January.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

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