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Thursday, July 28, 2022 | 8:01 p.m.
A Las Vegas resident has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission alleging Republican congressional candidate April Becker failed to properly disclose all of her real estate interests and her spouse’s financial obligations in a campaign finance report.
Becker, a real estate attorney, will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Susie Lee in the Nov. 8 midterms to represent Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, in southern Clark County.
The complaint filed July 16 by district resident Laurie Lytel alleges Becker failed to properly disclose “dozens of real estate interests” on her federal personal financial disclosure statement that she previously disclosed on her Nevada disclosure statement when she unsuccessfully ran for the Nevada Senate in 2020.
On that Nevada financial disclosure statement, Becker reported she or someone in her household held an ownership interest in 70 different properties between January 2019 and March 2020. A review of those properties on Clark County’s Assessor’s database shows that she or her companies still own those properties.
But on her 2021 and 2022 personal financial disclosure reports filed with the federal government, she disclosed only eight properties — three owned by 3BRB, a limited liability corporation; a parking lot owned by Service Masters Property LLC; and four condominiums owned by Sierra Manors Rental. Becker does have her limited liability corporations listed, including Becker Enterprises, which also owns property as well.
“Becker’s failure to disclose accurate and complete information regarding her finances is a breach of public trust and a violation of the law,” Lytel wrote in the complaint. “Nevada voters must have the opportunity to review properly filed reports to assess Becker’s fitness for elected office.”
Jeremy Hughes, a general consultant for Becker’s campaign, said in a statement to the Sun that “April takes her duty to properly report items seriously and will ensure there are no outstanding questions with her report.”
Becker’s campaign also has legal counsel, a treasurer and compliance personnel, all making sure the financial disclosure statements are done correctly, he said.
Delaney Marsco, senior legal counsel for ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan government watchdog group that focuses on campaign finance laws, said candidates were required to list properties they own to the extent that it is an income-producing asset. Typically personal residences or properties that do not generate income do not have to be disclosed, Marsco said.
If a candidate owns properties through a limited liability corporation, they must list those assets as well, Marsco said. And if a candidate owns a limited liability corporation for the purpose of holding real estate, they must provide the name of the company as well as a description of each property held by the company, Marsco said.
In Becker’s 2021 federal financial disclosure statement, she lists 3BRB LLC as owning “commercial property 1” in Las Vegas that received between $5,001 and $15,000 in rent for the 2021 calendar year. In that case Marsco said, that would probably be in compliance.
Candidates might have accidentally left something off of their financial disclosure statements and did not do it to secretly conceal something, Marsco said, but it is still important to be transparent.
“The public has a right to know this information,” Marsco said, speaking generally. “Congress believes that voters believe that they have a right to this information. It keeps the public in the dark about what their candidates’ financial interests really are, and then they can’t make informed decisions about their candidates.”
The complaint Lytel filed also alleges that Becker on her 2021 personal financial disclosure statement failed to disclose a $1 million loan for her husband’s business that was incurred in April 2019.
The loan was disclosed on Becker’s 2022 personal financial disclosure statement.
“Becker’s failure to disclose this loan on her 2021 (personal financial disclosure) meant that for over 260 days, she kept the public in the dark about her family’s financial liabilities and hid information that the public has a right to know,” Lytel’s complaint says. “Even worse, as of the date of this complaint, Becker has still not amended her 2021 (personal financial disclosure) to accurately and properly disclose the business loan.”
Hughes, Becker’s campaign consultant, provided the Sun with an amended financial disclosure statement dated July 26 that added information on the loan.
Lytel, who has a private psychotherapy practice and is a registered Democrat, has been a volunteer for different campaigns for years, and began looking into Becker’s finances when Becker ran for state Senate in 2020. Lytel said she was concerned that some of the payments Becker made were not disclosed and also wanted more details on disclosure items like meeting registration fees.
For example, on July 22 and 23, 2021, the campaign reimbursed $1,710 to Becker for meeting registration fees, according to Lytel’s complaint and the report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
“What meetings did she go to?” Lytel said. “What is she a member of? If she were to be my representative, I would want to know that.”
A separate complaint Lytel filed with the FEC alleges Becker’s campaign failed to report the ultimate vendors for over 20 disbursements made on behalf of her congressional campaign. The complaint lists reimbursements the campaign gave to Becker for unspecified travel or office supplies as examples.
Many campaigns, however, do not go into detail about disbursements on their reports. Some candidates use their own money up-front to pay for campaign expenditures, such as a flight to a campaign event, and then seek reimbursement later.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., for example, spent his own money on a campaign event in June 2022 and then got it reimbursed, according to his July quarterly report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The DOJ and FEC acknowledged receipt of the complaints, Lytel said. Should the complaints have merit, Becker could be subject to civil fines.
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