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Judicial hopeful disclaims donation

Two days after state Supreme Court candidate Deborah Schumacher returned a controversial contribution from a Las Vegas attorney entangled in an investigation, a political action committee bearing her name accepted another donation from the attorney.

Contribution records show a committee called Air Schumacher received a $10,000 contribution from attorney Laura Fitzsimmons, who handles eminent domain cases, on Oct. 17.

Schumacher said she returned $20,000 in contributions from Fitzsimmons on Oct. 15.

The controversy began when Schumacher’s opponent for state Supreme Court Seat B, Kris Pickering, told reporters last month that she notified federal authorities after she received an unsavory offer from her campaign manager, Gary Gray.

Pickering said Gray told her that Fitzsimmons would funnel $200,000 to Pickering’s campaign if she signed a document agreeing to recuse herself from state Supreme Court cases involving Fitzsimmons. Gray said if Pickering did not accept the offer, the money would go to an opponent, according to Pickering.

Schumacher said Air Schumacher is completely separate from her campaign. She doesn’t know who contributes and has no say over what activities it involves itself in.

"I don’t even know who they are; they may be supporters of me or they may be people who have had differences with Kris," Schumacher said.

Schumacher, a Washoe County Family Court judge, said she was sitting at her desk last week when she saw an airplane dragging a banner supporting her.

"Nobody was more startled than I was," Schumacher said.

The judge said she last spoke to Fitzsimmons when the controversy broke and she returned her money. She has not had a conversation with Fitzsimmons since, she said. She did not know that the attorney contributed to the committee until she saw the filing with the secretary of state’s office.

"Until they filed they disclosure statement, I didn’t even know who funded it," Schumacher said.

Schumacher said she has no authority to return the money because it belongs to the committee and is not connected with her campaign.

Gray has not returned numerous phone calls for comment.

Fitzsimmons previously said she and Pickering are adversaries and she would not give the judicial hopeful a dime for her campaign under any circumstances.

"Any allegation that I would ever offer any financial assistance to her campaign for any reason is false," Fitzsimmons said.

Since the media reported on the investigation, Pickering has aired commercials that tout her for being ethical and not tolerating political corruption.

A recent Review-Journal poll shows she has a slight lead on Schumacher.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

 

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