CARSON CITY — Nine state legislators, including the Assembly and Senate leaders, left Nevada on Feb. 7 to take an eight-day trip to Taiwan.
On the trip are Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas; Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas; Sens. Aaron Ford and David Parks, both D-Las Vegas; Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno; and Assembly members David Bobzien, D-Reno; Heidi Swank, D-Las Vegas; Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas; and Randy Kirner, R-Reno.
Their trip is being paid for by the Taiwanese government, according to Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Rick Combs. Unless they file for re-election, they will not have to decide until Jan. 15 whether to report the trip as a gift. That is when most state politicians are required to post financial disclosure statements on the secretary of state’s website. Gifts valued at more than $200 must be reported.
Those who file for re-election in the March 3-14 period will be required to post an additional financial disclosure statement by March 24.
But before then, they could ask the legislative counsel whether the trip should be reported as a gift or considered part of their legislative duties.
Taiwan has been a “sister state” to Nevada since 1985, and Taiwanese representatives visit the Nevada Legislature every session.
Two large great metal seals of Nevada were donated to the Legislature by Taiwan. The seals can be found on the north and south exteriors of the Legislative Building.
Before the 2011 session, there was some controversy when reports showed legislators Kevin Atkinson and William Horne, both Democrats from Clark County, took trips from PokerStars, an online poker company, to view its facilities in London.
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, took a trip from the same company to the Bahamas. Horsford is now in Congress.
Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes ruled that it was an educational, fact-finding session because online poker bills probably would be considered in the Legislature and that they did not have to report it as a gift. A bill allowing online poker was passed in 2013.
PokerStars also contributed $272,000 to 68 Nevada candidates before the 2011 session. When PokerStars officials were indicted in April 2011 in connection with federal violations, some of the lawmakers returned the contributions.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901. Follow him on Twitter @edisonvogel.