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GOP chairman resigns from state treasurer’s office job

CARSON CITY — State Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald has resigned his position with the state treasurer's office, Treasurer Dan Schwartz said Wednesday.

Schwartz said he reorganized his office to prepare for the launch of the new Education Savings Account program, opting to base the staff for the new initiative in the capital.

This decision has increased the need for senior management in Carson City, leading to the relocation of one of the senior deputy treasurers from Las Vegas to Carson City, he said.

"Senior Deputy Treasurer Michael McDonald and I mutually agreed that since his home and family are in Las Vegas, he would prefer to resign," Schwartz said. "Thus, he has submitted and I have accepted his resignation effective this Friday, October 9."

McDonald has been employed with the office in Las Vegas since July 20 at an hourly rate of $45.59 per hour, according to state personnel records. His annual compensation with benefits tops $100,000.

In an email, McDonald said he is deeply committed to his family, all of whom reside in Las Vegas, so it was impossible for him to move to Carson City to keep his job with the treasurer's office.

"I thanked Treasurer Schwartz for the opportunity to serve our community and wished him well in finding a replacement," he said.

Schwartz and McDonald, a former Las Vegas city councilman and Las Vegas police officer, are part of the conservative wing of the fractured state GOP at odds with Gov. Brian Sandoval and others in the Republican establishment.

Schwartz is also in charge of setting up the state's new education savings account program. These accounts allow about $5,000 in state, per-pupil funding to follow a student who leaves a public school and instead funnels the money into a private or parochial campus.

The program was approved by the 2015 Legislature and signed by Sandoval, but two lawsuits have been filed challenging it on constitutional grounds.

McDonald does plan to run for another term as Nevada state chairman of the Republican Party when the GOP gathers at a meeting in Las Vegas next month.

McDonald has been the focus of criticism over a $2.2 million loan from Miracle Flights for Kids, a Las Vegas nonprofit, to Med Lien Management in 2013. McDonald was on the children's charity board at the time and was a partner in the medical lien company, according to documents filed in a lawsuit and a federal bankruptcy proceeding.

The loan went into default and is now at the center of a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the charity. McDonald resigned from the charity last year and has denied influencing the loan.

More controversy hit McDonald last week when Ed Williams, the Clark County GOP chairman, resigned from the state GOP executive committee, citing concerns about a lack of minutes and potential exposure by committee members to the lawsuit.

McDonald has rejected Williams' concerns and called the resignation political grandstanding.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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