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Former North Las Vegas Mayor Buck faces ethics complaint

The Nevada secretary of state’s office is looking into an ethics complaint filed against former North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck that cites a handful of potential irregularities in her 2013 re-election campaign filings.

Email obtained by the Review-Journal indicate Buck, a Republican who lost her first re-election bid in April’s primary, didn’t promptly pay back big donors after failing to reach a November runoff with former state Sen. John Lee, a Democrat who won the mayor’s race.

Publicly available campaign filings dating back to July 2009 — the statutory starting line for Buck’s April 2013 election cycle — suggest that she collected more than $35,000 from five separate donors in anticipation of a fall general election she never reached.

Buck gave some or all of those funds back to each donor, but in some cases that happened only six months after a state-enforced June deadline on primary campaign donations over $5,000.

Of particular interest to officials is $7,500 in contributions from Republic Silver State Disposal, which didn’t see its $2,500 refund until Dec. 23 — the same day Councilman Wade Wagner wrote a check for that amount to the Buck campaign.

“Pursuant to NRS 294A.160 (5), a candidate who loses at the primary is required to return contributions from a contributor in excess of $5,000,” an official with the secretary of state’s office wrote Nov. 15. “This needs to be done by the 15th day of the second month after the election.

“As applied to the April 2013 Primary, Ms. Buck would have had until June 15, 2013, to return $2,500 to Republic Silver State Disposal.”

Reached for comment Saturday, Wagner said Buck had reached out to him for help refunding donor contributions, but said he couldn’t remember whether she made explicit reference to money owed to Republic Services.

State officials, acting on a formal complaint filed by North Las Vegas resident and Democrat Joann Wright, haven’t said what action they plan to pursue as a result of Wright’s inquiry.

They could not be reached for comment on Saturday. Wright did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Other Buck campaign transactions brought to the secretary of state’s attention include thousands in un-refunded contributions owed to The Cannery and Crescent Bay Holdings 2 LLC, a contributor based out of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Still others feature donations from CRCG, LLC, owned by longtime Buck backer Ram Janga, who was refunded less than half of the $12,500 in total individual and business campaign contributions he donated since the start of last election cycle.

Meanwhile, more than $7,500 in primary funds found their way from Buck’s campaign account to The Quest Co., a shell corporation twice registered at the former mayor’s home address.

Buck did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Contact reporter James DeHaven at jdehaven@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3839. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesDeHaven.

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