Jeanette Strong: Suspicious and underhanded

“Michele Fiore is the most comprehensively unqualified major party candidate for constitutional office in Nevada history.” Zach Conine, Nevada treasurer, Reno Gazette Journal, Sept. 25, 2022.

Zach Conine is Nevada’s 23rd state treasurer, elected in 2018. During his four years in office, Nevada has made great advances financially, including two bond rating increases, even during the chaos of the COVID pandemic. This has given Nevada the best credit rating of any state in the U.S.

A major responsibility of the state treasurer is to invest state money to achieve the best returns. Under Conine’s leadership, state investments have generated the highest returns since the 2008 recession. In four years, the Nevada treasury has also returned over $128 million in unclaimed property to Nevadans, the largest amount returned since the Unclaimed Property Program was created. (Lincoln County Record, Feb. 7)

Other responsibilities include financing community facilities, processing payments for public agencies, and administering the Nevada College Savings Plans, which allows Nevadans to save for their children’s education. The treasurer also oversees state scholarship programs.

State law also requires the treasurer to serve as chair of the Nevada Capital Investment Corporation (NCIC). This is a government agency, signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2011, which invests non-taxpayer dollars in Nevada education and businesses.

The Republican candidate for treasurer, Michelle Fiore, apparently has no idea what the treasurer’s duties are. On Sept. 23, she accused Conine of secretly running a private business out of his office.

“I look forward to seeing Conine rectify this omission by offering me, as his political opponent, and the people of Nevada an explanation for this suspicious and underhanded behavior taken outside the boundaries of the law.” The “suspicious and underhanded behavior”? Serving as chair of the NCIC, a position Fiore would legally be required to hold if she became state treasurer. Hardly “outside the boundaries of the law.” (Reno Gazette Journal, Sept. 25)

This ignorance is just one example of Fiore’s complete unsuitability for this state position. Fiore is currently a Las Vegas councilwoman. On Jan. 11, 2021, she and another councilwoman, Victoria Seaman, got into a physical altercation at City Hall. Seaman said Fiore grabbed her violently, breaking her finger, pulling her hair and knocking her down. (Reno Gazette Journal, Sept. 27)

Seaman sued. A report released on Sept. 29 said both women were responsible for the altercation. Deverie Christensen, the investigator in charge, wrote, “I found evidence to substantiate that both Councilwoman Seaman and Councilwoman Fiore engaged in conduct in violation of the Code of Conduct on Jan. 11, 2021. Regardless of ‘who started it,’ the screaming argument and physical altercation was disrespectful, abusive conduct and wholly inappropriate.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sept. 30)

Besides being ignorant of what the treasurer’s duties are and engaging in physical violence with a fellow council member, Fiore has been under FBI investigation regarding her handling of campaign finances. The IRS has also filed over $1.2 million in tax liens against her, dating back to 2003. For someone who wants to be in charge of the office responsible for overseeing government funds, with a budget of $425 million, these facts indicate she is incapable of handling such responsibility. (Reno Gazette Journal, May 23)

Conine has overwhelmingly proven he is the most qualified candidate to be our state treasurer. All of the Democratic candidates for state office have shown the same expertise. For example, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto has accomplished solid results for Nevadans, something Republican challenger Adam Laxalt will never admit.

On Oct. 6, Cortez Masto announced that she had secured $21 million in federal funds to support Nevada law enforcement efforts. Because of her ongoing work in this area, she’s been endorsed by the Nevada Police Union, the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers and the Nevada Law Enforcement Coalition.

Cortez Masto has also worked tirelessly for veterans, including securing funds to build the Elko National Cemetery, the first VA national cemetery in Nevada. She helped pass a bill guaranteeing health benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits. She also got legislation passed to protect VA benefits for student veterans. Ross Bryant, executive director of UNLV’s Military & Veteran Services, praised Cortez Masto, saying, “At the end of the day, she has delivered. She’s been a rock star for us.” (Reno Gazette Journal, Oct. 5)

There is underhanded activity in this election, but it’s not by the Democratic candidates. They have proven they are the most qualified for their jobs. They each deserve your vote.

Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at


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