Updated September 13, 2021 - 4:58 pm
Molly Taylor, who tried unsuccessfully last year to recall Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore from office, pleaded no contest Monday to a misdemeanor for failing to submit the final petition to the city clerk’s office.
Taylor must pay a $250 fine but will not have to turn over signatures she collected from proponents in the latter half of the recall effort, she said.
“I’m very relieved,” she said outside a courtroom in Las Vegas Justice Court shortly after entering the plea.
Taylor had long vowed not to hand in the final recall petition to the city clerk’s office in order to keep private the identities of people who signed because she said Fiore had threatened supporters, including during an interview with a conservative radio show in August 2020.
A top Fiore aide last year refuted claims that the councilwoman made any such threats toward petition signers. In a statement posted on Twitter after the recall failed, Fiore cast the effort as a “partisan move” by a “ridiculously small yet very loud group” that had sought to distract her from important city issues.
“It is unfortunate that Molly Taylor could not follow the law and was found guilty of a misdemeanor today,” Fiore’s Ward 6 office said in a statement Monday. “Public record transparency/retention is integral to a fair petition process; and this case has reached a just conclusion.”
Nevada law permits elected officials to request people remove their names from petitions. It also allows anyone who signs a recall petition to request their name be removed by the clerk.
And the state law is unambiguous: Anyone who fails to submit a recall petition to a filing officer is guilty of a misdemeanor. Taylor acknowledged Monday that she violated the statute.
Misdemeanors in Nevada are punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
Effort pivots to changing the law
Taylor founded the group “Expel Michele,” which embarked on a 90-day effort in June 2020 to try to collect 1,911 valid signatures necessary to launch a recall election. The effort, she said, was prompted by concerns about Fiore’s representation of Ward 6, including reportedly racially charged remarks she was said to have made regarding affirmative action.
Taylor’s group was more than 1,300 names short in June 2020 when it submitted signatures to the city clerk’s office halfway into the recall effort as required by law. And when it failed to collect enough signatures by the 90-day deadline, the committee cited the difficulty in hiring signature collectors in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason.
The month after Fiore’s radio appearance in August 2020, Taylor said she would seek to protect signers by not submitting the final petition and thereby concealing the identities of anyone who signed during the second half of the recall effort.
Now Taylor, who said she had received an outpouring of support since last week, said she will turn attention to advocating for a change in state law, hoping to add an exception to allow withholding recall signatures in the event that recall proponents are threatened.
“I didn’t know how to do a recall but I did the best I could,” she said. “I don’t know how to change a law or get a law changed, but you know what? I’m going to start and we’ll see where it goes.”
An earlier version of this story misidentified Las Vegas City Clerk LuAnn Holmes in the accompanying photograph.