Candidates’ financials: What Nevada politicians are worth

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 (2 a.m.)

It’s not just the 1 percent running for Congress in Nevada.

Yes, we’ve got some millionaires in the field of candidates — businessman Dan Schwartz and former university professor Dina Titus, for example.

But others in the field vying in the state’s four districts appear to be suffering from some of the same economic hardship that has beset the rest of the state, according to a review of personal financial disclosure statements filed by the candidates.

State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, who is in the Republican primary for Nevada’s new 4th Congressional District, relies almost solely on her modest income from the Legislature.

In the past year, her husband, Tim Cegavske, collected $16,400 in unemployment compensation after he lost his job with a slot-route company. The family has racked up more than $30,000 in credit card debt.

Barbara Cegavske said her family’s struggle is a reflection of what others are going through in the down economy.

“You have to make ends meet, you have to cut back, and that’s what we’ve done,” she said. “It’s all because of the economy. It gives you a perspective on what’s going on. I can relate. When I hear stories from people, I understand what they are going through.”

Late last year, Tim Cegavske found work with a political consulting firm that does direct mail and polling for campaigns in Nevada, Barbara Cegavske said, and stopped collecting unemployment.

“Nothing has been handed to us on a silver platter,” she said. “We’ve always worked our whole entire lives. We are proud of that.”

Barbara Cegavske’s not the only one with meager financial resources in the CD4 race. Kenneth Wegner, a perennial candidate who has failed to win office, lists no salaries and just one bank account worth between $15,000 and $50,000.

Their situations stand in stark contrast to the fortunes of others running for office.

Also in the Republican primary in the CD4 race is Schwartz, a lawyer and investor whose net worth, according to his financial disclosure statement, is between $4.48 million and $9.9 million. (The forms report ranges rather than exact values for candidates’ investments.)

Schwartz is using some of that personal fortune to fund his campaign.

According to FEC documents, he’s lent his congressional campaign $232,000 — seven times what he has raised from supporters.

Republican Danny Tarkanian, also competing in the CD4 race, has used personal funds for his campaign, as well. As a candidate in the 2010 Republican Senate primary, which he lost to former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, he sunk more than $300,000 into the race.

Most of that debt has carried over to his congressional race.

“You start thinking you have a chance to win and you would hate to lose because of money,” he said of his Senate race. “I put in a little extra than I wanted to, but it was all personal money.”

Tarkanian’s latest FEC report did not report the debt. He said he changed accountants recently and would amend the report to reflect the fact his campaign owes him more than $260,000.

According to his financial disclosure, Tarkanian is worth between $225,000 and $700,000. Most of his money is in stocks and other investments. He draws a small salary from a sports nonprofit that he runs.

But Tarkanian also is potentially carrying a substantial personal debt — as much as $14.5 million to La Jolla Bank in San Diego — from a business deal gone bad in 2007. Tarkanian declined to report the amount of that debt on his financial disclosure form, listing it simply as “disputed.” He’s involved in a lawsuit to determine who is responsible for the loan.

On the Democratic side in CD4, state Sen. Steven Horsford, who was late filing his financial disclosure, reported a net worth between $35,000 and $350,000 with a $150,000 salary from the Culinary Training Institute.

In other races, Assemblyman John Oceguera, a retired firefighter running in the 3rd Congressional District, listed a net worth between $487,000 and $1.1 million.

Titus, running in the 1st Congressional District, is worth between $2.2 million and $8 million.

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