Nevada treasurer riles up politically powerful, fellow Republicans included

CARSON CITY — State Treasurer Dan Schwartz wasted little time before plunging into Nevada politics. He quickly found out how treacherous the waters can be.

Just a month on the job, Schwartz was verbally skewered in February 2015 by fellow Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee when he opposed GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget and proposed tax package. Instead, he offered an alternative spending plan that was grand on ideas, skimpy on details.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, accused Schwartz of hijacking the legislative process and suggested the treasurer lacked a basic understanding of the budget. Schwartz parried that as an elected constitutional officer, he’s required to provide information to the Legislature on any subject connected with the treasury.

“So, Mr. Treasurer, you believe that justifies hijacking the process and bringing forth a three-page budget, your budget? For political purposes?” Roberson sneered.

“I’m in shock and dismay that you would be here today proposing this,” Roberson said. “I’m embarrassed for you, sir.”

The terse exchange made Schwartz — depending on your point of view — either a champion of the conservative cause or a politically naive gadfly dismissed by party establishment with a roll of the eyes.

The treasurer is in charge of state investments and oversees various programs such as college savings accounts, the Millennium Scholarship fund, the permanent school fund and unclaimed property. Setting tax policy and the state budget are not part of the treasurer’s job duties, which fall to the governor and Legislature. The job pays $103,000 a year.

Thinking back to that uncomfortable day before the Finance Committee, Schwartz is sanguine.

“I will tell you at the end of the day, I was not unhappy with what happened,” Schwartz said in an interview at his Capitol office.

“I will quote one of my colleagues who came in here right after the hearing and said, ‘Dan, the man in the street has never heard of you. But they know one thing: You’re against higher taxes.’”

And if he ever finds himself on a ballot against Roberson, he knows what he’d like to do.

“I think, too, if I ever ran against Roberson, which I have no intention of doing, I’m just going to take the clip of him melting down,” he said, referring to video of the exchange.

A LONG, STRANGE TRIP

Politics is a second career for Schwartz, 65, who grew up in Chicago, where his first elected office was president of his senior high school class.

“It’s a little different politics in high school than running for state treasurer,” Schwartz said with a grin.

His father, James Schwartz, was a traveling furniture salesman until he became an early Holiday Inn franchise owner, including the first one in the Chicago area. He would eventually run a dozen hotels in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.

Brother Stephen followed his father into the hospitality business and founded First Hospitality Group, a national hotel management and development company with dozens of properties in Midwestern states.

But Dan Schwartz pursued banking and business.

He earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton and spent two years in the Army stationed in Germany. He took a trip around the world, then enrolled in Boston University Law School. He didn’t like it, so he got a Master of Business Administration degree at Columbia University before eventually returning to Boston and earning his law degree.

He worked at various firms on Wall Street before starting his own, eventually buying into other companies.

“We ended up starting a couple of newsletters and some journals,” he said. “We were offered a couple of purchases. One was a newsletter in England; another one was in Hong Kong. The one in the U.K. we ended up probably breaking even on.

“But the one in Hong Kong proved to be a real success.”

That was Asian Venture Capital Journal, a subscription-based publication billed as “the leading source of information on private equity and venture capital activities” in Asia.

The journal “was certainly a home run,” he said. He has since sold it.

Schwartz lived in Hong Kong for five years, returning to the United States in the early 2000s, although he makes frequent trips to China and has some business dealings there. He serves on the board of Beijing-based Maxit Technology and describes his role as one of “unhappy investor” in a company that “refuses to die.”

He’s also founder and CEO of Qiosk.com, a domestic company that distributes magazines and trade publications online.

“I’m a shareholder, I’m the CEO but I have a partner who … really runs the company,” he said. “This is a full-time position here and I treat it as such,” he said of his job as treasurer.

His wife, Yanan, 50, is from China, and earlier this month became a U.S. citizen. The couple met in 2007 on a blind date in Beijing, where Yanan worked for the Sino-Italian Cooperation Program for Environmental Protection. They married in 2011 and took up residence in Nevada.

FIRST FORAY INTO POLITICS

Schwartz doesn’t consider himself wealthy, but “comfortable.” His financial disclosure form filed with the U.S. House of Representatives during a 2012 bid for Congress reported a net wealth of $6 million to $16 million.

In that race he ran for the Republican nomination in Nevada’s newly created 4th Congressional District, spending about $400,000 of his money in the failed bid.

“Maybe I was myopic, but I didn’t see that as such a big deal,” he said of seeking office shortly after adopting a Nevada ZIP code. But others, he said, saw him as a carpetbagger.

“I lost, but it was a very good introduction for me,” he said.

He became finance chairman for the state Republican Party. When 2014 rolled around and the GOP was looking for a candidate for treasurer, he was tapped.

Schwartz was elected in a “red wave” of Republican victories propelled by Sandoval’s popularity and poor voter turnout, particularly by Democrats, who lost control of the Nevada Assembly for the first time in decades and all constitutional offices.

Schwartz financed his treasurer campaign himself, pumping nearly $500,000 into the race.

“I’m not beholden to all the casinos in Las Vegas,” he said.

IN THE NEWS

State treasurer is hardly a high-profile job, but Schwartz has stayed in the news.

In the summer he quietly hired Michael McDonald, a conservative ally and chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, who was named in a civil lawsuit for a $2.2 million loan from a charity he oversaw to a business in which he was involved.

McDonald’s hiring as a deputy treasurer with salary and benefits topping $100,000 annually was seen by critics as a juice job. Schwartz defended the hiring, saying in a statement that the allegations against McDonald “appear false and reflect more the assumptions of their authors rather than any factual basis.”

Less than three months after McDonald was hired, Schwartz announced McDonald’s resignation, saying his departure was because of an office restructure that moved McDonald’s position from Las Vegas to Carson City.

Schwartz has publicly questioned whether Jia Yueting, a Chinese billionaire and backer of electric carmaker Faraday Future, has the finances to build a $1 billion factory after state lawmakers approved and Sandoval signed an incentive package to lure the company to North Las Vegas.

The deal includes $175 million in state obligation bonds to bring needed infrastructure to the Apex Industrial Park, where Faraday plans to build and requires Faraday to put up a security to protect taxpayers.

Last month Schwartz announced he would “look into” Faraday Future’s financing while on a personally financed trip to China with his wife. State economic development officials downplayed concerns, saying the law ensured protections for taxpayers.

Earlier this month Faraday said it would obtain a $75 million bond and put another $13 million into escrow to help finance the infrastructure.

“As long as they come up with the bond, I’m happy,” Schwartz said. But he still has concerns about Jia’s company, Leshi, which has not resumed trading on the Chinese markets since it halted in December, and he worries the state will be left with a half-built factory if the project collapses.

He has also become a central figure in the fight over Nevada’s new education choice law being contested in the courts. The treasurer’s office was deemed administrator of education savings accounts, a program passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Sandoval that allows parents to take the state portion of per-pupil funding and use it to pay for private school tuition. Two lawsuits are challenging the constitutionality of the law, and one is in the Nevada Supreme Court after a lower court issued an injunction blocking the program.

Schwartz is vehement in his disagreement with the injunction.

“I was at the hearing and I just think it’s a poor opinion and it’s not based on any evidence,” he said of ruling by District Judge James Wilson.

“To me what this is about is the Legislature and the governor saying we’ve spent billions of dollars on our public schools and where are we? We’re 50 out of 51. And you can’t argue with that. It’s time to give parents a choice.”

He and state Attorney General Adam Laxalt publicly sparred with Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, a Sandoval ally, over the ESA litigation when Hutchison, acting as a private lawyer, filed a third lawsuit seeking an expedited ruling from a judge that the law was constitutional. There were allegations of ethical breaches, political posturing and snide retorts before the trio declared a truce and Hutchison put his lawsuit on hold.

Schwartz differed with the attorney general’s office over how much of a bond parents who won the injunction should have to post while the appeal proceeds. He wanted $4 million, Laxalt’s office asked for $239,000, and the court set it at $75,000.

“You want to sue me, you want to sue the state, you can do that, but there’s consequences,” he said. “And one of those consequences is you have to put up a bond for potential injury.

“If you want to act big, you got to pay big,” he said.

WHAT’S NEXT

Schwartz isn’t saying what’s in store for him politically when his first term is up in 2018.

“I think if I run again … all options are open. … One of the issues I’m going to try to tackle is the system by which we finance this state,” he said.

How to do it is another question.

“I don’t know how you change it,” he said. “I don’t know how you get the revenues.”

Schwartz, in his alternative budget denounced by the Senate Finance Committee last year, still favors a type of “consumption” tax. He had proposed imposing a 25-cent surcharge on all restaurant and bar tabs, a tax he said would mostly be paid by visitors.

He also floated raising money by imposing a $5-per-passenger airport fee, until notified such fees are controlled by the federal government and prohibited by states.

Schwartz is steadfast in his opposition to Sandoval’s commerce tax, assessed on businesses with gross receipts exceeding $4 million annually. But he’s leery of a referendum being pursued by state Controller Ron Knecht, a fellow conservative Republican, to repeal it.

“Ron is a friend,” Schwartz said.

Although he supports the concept of repealing the commerce tax, he questions what it would do for the state’s credit rating.

“I think Ron’s heart is in the right place,” Schwartz said. “I don’t necessarily agree with his methods.”

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Find her on Twitter: @SandraChereb

ad-high_impact_4
News
NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local
Lights FC coach Eric Wynalda lost his home in California wildfire
Eric Wynalda, coach of the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer team, talks about losing his home in the deadly California wildfires during an interview in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 17, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Women face issues from Essure birth control implants
DeVonna "Kat" Normand said she had complications from the Essure birth control implants. Normand uses her Sin City Heat show at 22.3 TakeOver Vegas Radio internet radio station in Las Vegas as a platform to raise awareness about Essure and connect with other women who have used the device. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Truancy and Clark County schools
Tony Stark, one of 23 attendance officers with the Clark County School District, have a tall order tracking down students who aren't in school.
North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like