Clark County Nevada
September 4, 2020
On July 31, 2020, Nevada Sec’y of State fined Judge Vincent Ochoa for having violated campaign reporting laws. Ochoa failed to file campaign contribution and expense reports for five (5) years, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
CONTRIBUTION and EXPENSE REPORTS
Candidates are required to file annual reports that list “who” gave money to the candidate and “how much” they gave, along with a reporting of expenses. The law requires candidates to file these reports. Failure to file annual reports results in fines of up to $100 per day, maxing out at $10,000 per violation. Ochoa failed to file five (5) reports, which means Ochoa could be fined up to $50,000. Note also, Sec’y of State has the discretion to reduce fines.
By failing to timely file contribution and expense reports, Ochoa violates NRS 294A – AND because he’s a judge – Ochoa also violates a parallel provision at Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon No. 4, which requires that judicial candidates “shall report contributions received and campaign expenses,” [see Rule 4.2(A)(5)].
OCHOA – TWICE BUSTED!
Sec’y of State fined Ochoa, which means he violated campaign laws, [NRS 294A], which automatically results in a violation of judicial canons, [Rule 4.2(A) (5)]. Ochoa violated both NRS and the judicial canons!
CANDIDATE COMPLAINT PROCESS
To bust-out, a judge for campaign violations, the Nevada Secretary of State requires written complaints. Note: they DO NOT allow anonymous complaints!
NO ANONYMOUS COMPLAINTS
TMP, (your humble narrator), phoned Sec’y of State to make an anonymous complaint. TMP explained that Ochoa failed to file campaign reports for five years – but Sec’y of State refused to take the complaint! Sec’y of State did agree that Ochoa violated the law – for failure to file the reports – but still, they refused to act unless TMP filed a written complaint.
On July 28, 2020, TMP filed a written complaint with Sec’y of State. Notably, the Sec’y of State complaint form says: “All complaints received will be kept confidential.” TMP relied on the form being kept “confidential.” But guess what?—complaints are NOT kept “confidential!” Nevada Sec’y of State ratted-out TMP by giving his complaint directly to Ochoa! *cue scary music!* Thanks a lot, Barbara C.!
How did this all happen? Just goes to show ya, nobody ever uses the Sec’y of State complaint forms!—because nobody ever complains! The TMP complaint is likely the only one they’ve seen in years! Sec’y of State is in uncharted territory – trying to process a candidate complaint!
BREACH of CONFIDENTIALITY
Yes, TMP has a meritorious lawsuit against Sec’y of State for breach of confidentiality, but this is a small consolation for being outed to Ochoa! Gee thanks, Barbara!
Barbara C. can scarcely process what should be a routine complaint! Can we trust Barbara C. to manage a presidential election? Asking for a friend.
Put $500 cash in an envelope, address it to yourself – and mail it to yourself. Don’t have the guts to mail it? Worried it may get lost? Okay. Maybe you should vote in person.
Nevada law discourages candidate complaints by forbidding confidentiality. But still, the candidate complaint form is plainly marked confidential: “All complaints received will be kept confidential”… (…wait for it…) … *SIKE!*
‘PAID HIS PENALTY’
Remarkably, Sec’y of State defends Ochoa: “Judge Ochoa filed every year timely, he just filed the incorrect report. Many candidates and judges make mistakes regarding their filings, or they have campaign managers who make mistakes. Judge Ochoa was informed of his mistake and fixed the issue and paid his penalty within an hour.” [Email to TMP; (Aug. 10, 2020); emphases added]
So, how did Ochoa’s campaign manager blow it? “Who” is Ochoa’s campaign manager? None other than David V. Thomas. Yes!—the same guy who tries to talk judicial candidates out of running against candidates who give him money! And Ochoa gave Thomas over $70k!
$70k for WHAT?
Sounds like David V. Thomas, the “campaign manager” (Austin Powers air quotes), dropped the ball big-time! And Ochoa paid a whopping $70k—just for the primary! But for what exactly? To get fined by the State? Thomas can’t even get his client to file campaign reports on time? Srsly?
NEV. COMM. on JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE
TMP has a totally legit ethics complaint – against Ochoa. The fine proves that Ochoa violated campaign laws, which in turn proves that Ochoa violated judicial canons. But how much was the fine?
HOW MUCH was the FINE?
TMP contacted Sec’y of State and asked for a copy of the fine issued to Ochoa. But there is major pushback from Sec’y of State. And this totally sketches! Apparently, they don’t want TMP to have incriminating evidence; (c’mon!—they know why TMP wants it!). So, TMP made a Public Records Request – demanding to see evidence of the Ochoa fine!
PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST
On Aug. 29, 2020, TMP made a Public Records request. But here’s the kicker: Nevada Sec’y of State refuses even to acknowledge the request! It’s not so much that they’re withholding documents – they won’t even acknowledge a document request in the first place! (Ya know?!)
SIGNS ‘n WONDERS
Where state agencies, like the one Barbara C. runs, refuse to process public records requests, its prima facie evidence that fascism has come to the Great State of Nevada.
ERNEST Del CASAL
Local activist, Ernest Del Casal, publicly challenged TMP – demanding to see evidence supporting the existence of the Ochoa fine. Okay; fair enough. Hey, Barbara C.!—where’s the evidence of the Ochoa fine? Asking for a friend!
Perhaps Barbara C. refuses to produce evidence of the Ochoa fine … in order to leave TMP with no evidence for Judicial Commission … which would mean no ethics complaint against Ochoa. Just a theory …
TMP’s complaint re Ochoa is not confidential … right? Therefore, it logically follows that documents regarding the Ochoa fine, likewise, are not confidential … right?
As per the Code of Fair Campaign Practices, all Nevada election campaigns are “open” and “public,” [see NRS 294A.290]. In other words, the general public has a right to see evidence of the Ochoa fine.
Tune in next time!—we’re taking wagers to see whether Barbara C. will capitulate – and produce evidence of the Ochoa fine (or not)!