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Conine campaign files complaint against Fiore, alleging straw donor scheme

Updated October 13, 2022 - 11:28 am

Incumbent Democratic state Treasurer Zach Conine’s campaign filed a complaint Wednesday morning alleging Republican nominee Michele Fiore accepted contributions exceeding the $10,000 limit and was part of a “straw donor” scheme.

Fiore’s campaign says the issues with the financial reports amount to a clerical error, not wrongdoing.

The report says Fiore exceeded $10,000 in contributions from American West Development Chairman Lawrence Canarelli, a Las Vegas land developer, over the course of 2021 and 2022, reporting more than $17,500 from him in a six-month period, according to campaign finance records.

Fiore’s campaign also reported two $10,000 contributions from Sheryl Cordero, an executive with Blue Marble Development, a real estate developer in North Las Vegas. Another donor, Mobile Materials Mix Inc., appeared to donate $25,000 in December 2021, according to the campaign finance records. The contribution and expenditure reports do not show an amended report nor a refund to either donor.

People donating more than the $10,000 limit to campaigns is common, however. Many campaigns receive donations exceeding $10,000, but they are required to refund the excess money, according to state law. The Nevada secretary of state’s office said the matter is under review, but could not comment further.

The report also accuses Fiore of accepting numerous contributions from donors who have no apparent connection to Nevada or who may not exist at all. It alleges that donors using fake names and fake addresses funneled money into her campaign from American West Development Company and Blue Marble Development.

For example, Fiore received $5,000 from a “Sherwin Borsuk,” an individual with no connections to Nevada that Conine’s campaign could find, but the address listed for the contribution is associated with Blue Marble Development, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office.

Conine’s campaign could not find a record of a Borsuk living in Nevada through the secretary of state or databases like Lexis, the report says.

Using the same address as American West Development, there were multiple contributions of $10,000 from people named Lawrence Carnarelli, Lawrence Canarelli, Lawrence Jenkins and Lawrence Wu, according to campaign finance records. Conine’s campaign alleges that those are fake names reported to the secretary of state.

Conine’s campaign shared its research with the Nevada attorney general’s office and other law enforcement agencies so they can investigate further.

Fiore’s campaign spokesperson Rory McShane said in a statement to the Review-Journal that Conine is using a “minor clerical error” to distract voters from his “divesting from companies because he disagrees with the Constitution and invests in Communist Party of China-owned companies instead.”

In response, Conine defended his action in divesting from companies that manufacture assault-style weapons, saying it saved the state tens of millions of dollars.

In March 2017 the state invested in a seed bank that gives money to farmers around the world to buy seeds, and one of the seed bank’s offices is in China, Conine said. The investment has brought about $10 million of interest earnings to the state.

Conine said the issues in Fiore’s financial records are not clerical errors, but a crime.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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