Nevada judge reverses ruling in GOP Assembly candidate case
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A novice candidate for the state Legislature, who testified he didn’t campaign, was late filing finance reports and was surprised to win a Republican primary last June will remain on the November ballot after a judge said Tuesday he didn’t have power to disqualify him from office.
With mail-in ballots listing Jason Burke’s name already distributed, Clark County District Court Judge Jim Crockett undid a mistake he said he made last month when he granted candidate Mack Miller’s bid to block Burke’s candidacy.
State law allows for contesting an election if the winner isn’t eligible. But state campaign finance law only allows for fines for failing to file reports, not the disqualification of a candidate, the judge said.
Miller and his attorney, Mitchell Posin, said they plan to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Crockett made it clear he didn’t like what he called Burke’s “cavalier, head-in-the-sand” approach to meeting requirements listed in campaign documents that Burke acknowledged receiving and signing, including filing campaign finance disclosures on time whether he raised and spent money.
“Claims afterward that you don’t know what (campaign documents) said or what it meant doesn’t sit well for someone who wants to sit in the Legislature,” Crockett told Burke.
Burke filed campaign finance disclosures on July 3, well past filing deadlines in March, May and June, according to court documents.
He also filed court paperwork in July, acting as his own attorney, but didn’t attend the Sept. 13 hearing at which Crockett initially granted Miller’s request to disqualify Burke.
Burke said he didn’t know until later that day that a hearing had been scheduled.
The 24-year-old part-time cellphone salesman testified that after paying his own $100 filing fee in March, his “life work” made him too busy to attend campaign events, raise campaign funds or knock on doors in his Assembly District 5 in suburban Las Vegas.
Miller, 42, a self-described legal strategist, lost by 122 votes to Burke in a June GOP primary in which a little more than 2,300 votes were cast.
Wayne Thorley, deputy Nevada secretary of state, said Monday that mail-in ballots have already been distributed and perhaps 1,000 have already been returned.
Democrat Brittney Miller is the Assembly District 5 incumbent. She is not related to Mack Miller.