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Nevada GOP chair resigning from deputy state treasurer post

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Steve Marcus

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald attends a rally for immigration reform at the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, headquarters Monday, July 1, 2013.

Updated Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 | 1:02 p.m.

CARSON CITY — Nevada State Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald is resigning his post as a senior deputy treasurer in the state Treasurer's Office effective Friday, after less than three months on the job.

Treasurer Dan Schwartz, who had been criticized for making the hire while McDonald faces a lawsuit over a loan gone bad, attributed the move to restructuring related to the popular new Education Savings Account program.

"For managerial and logistical reasons, we have decided to locate our ESA program in Carson City rather than in Las Vegas," Schwartz said in a statement. "Senior Deputy Treasurer Michael McDonald and I mutually agreed that since his home and family are in Las Vegas, he would prefer to resign."

Schwartz's chief of staff, Grant Hewitt, said the restructuring was the main driver for the resignation, but acknowledged other issues may have played a role.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that McDonald is being sued for his alleged role in arranging a $2.2 million loan from the children's charity Miracle Flights for Kids, where McDonald served on the board. The loan went to Med Lien Management, a medical bill collection business where McDonald was part-owner, and has since gone into default, according to the newspaper.

McDonald's summertime appointment to the high-ranking state job, which pays $95,000 annually in salary and involves community outreach duties, went largely unnoticed until political journalist Jon Ralston highlighted the move in mid-September. The agency said the position is considered "classified," and therefore didn't require a competitive application process.

Schwartz, who served as finance director for the state Republican party while McDonald was chairman of the organization, initially defended the hiring of his former party colleague.

"We are aware of recent articles regarding Mr. McDonald," Schwartz said in a statement Sept. 16. "We have looked into and are not concerned about the various issues referenced. The allegations appear false and reflect more the assumptions of their authors rather than any factual basis."

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