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December 21, 2014

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Assemblyman settles complaints over residency, financial disclosure forms

 Jim Wheeler, Assemblyman for District No. 39, of the 77th (2013) Nevada Assembly.

Jim Wheeler, Assemblyman for District No. 39, of the 77th (2013) Nevada Assembly.

CARSON CITY – The furor surrounding Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler’s residency and financial disclosure statements is going to end without a penalty being imposed.

A complaint was filed in November with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office and with the Assembly Select Committee on Ethics that Wheeler’s financial disclosure forms failed to list his debts and that he wasn’t living in his district.

Wheeler, who lists his home as in Gardnerville, represents a district that encompasses all of Douglas and Storey counties and part of Lyon County. He admitted in November to spending a lot of time at the home of his girlfriend in Washoe County, but she now has moved to Douglas County, he said.

Scott Gilles, deputy secretary of state for elections, said Wednesday that Wheeler had agreed to submit amended financial disclosure statements for 2010, 2012 and 2013 in which he will reveal a Michigan state tax lien, his sources of income, his business entities and his length of residence in Nevada.

Once those documents are filed, the case will be closed and there’ll be no penalty, said Gilles.

Wheeler sparked a controversy last year when he told a meeting of Republicans in Storey County he would vote for slavery if it was the will of his constituents. “If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose. They’d probably have to hold a gun to my head but yeah.”

Republican leaders and others roundly condemned him for his remarks.

Wheeler said the corrected financial disclosure documents were filed Tuesday. He said the errors were not willful.

“I’m not a polished politician. I never filled out one of these forms before,” he said.

The Assembly Select Committee on Ethics notified Wheeler in November that it lacked authority to look into the allegations. It cited a legal opinion from the staff of the Legislature it must have the full consent of the Assembly to go forward with any investigation.

Kelly Kite, whom Wheeler defeated in the 2012 primary election, filed the complaints. Kite said documents showed Wheeler owed $6,168 in withholding tax in Michigan and this was not reported on the financial disclosure report. Wheeler said he listed the debt on his newly filed disclosure form but includes the word “disputed.” He repeated he had never been in business in Michigan.

The law requires listing debts of more than $5,000.

Gilles said Wheeler must provide specific information of his employer on the reports. Wheeler, a first-term assemblyman, reported his income from insurance and employment. He said he was now retired.

In 2010, Wheeler reported he lived in Nevada and in Assembly District 39 four years. Two years later he reported he had lived in the state and in the district nine years and in 2013, he said he had lived in the state and district 10 years.

Kite said he has not been contacted by the Secretary of State’s Office and added the decision was up to the Secretary of State’s Office.

“I believe candidates should not be above the law,” said Kite, who added he will not run again for the Assembly.

Wheeler called the complaint by Kite “political motivated” and added he would seek re-election this fall.

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