Ex-lawmaker’s final vote questioned after move from Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Shortly before she was named Nevada rural judge last month over a large pool of applicants, then-Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore insisted to county officials that she was a good fit for the judgeship because she met the qualifications to be considered a local resident.
But Fiore had continued her role on the Las Vegas city council after her move to Nye County, attending four council meetings while living in the small desert town of Pahrump, near the California border.
Her dual role as a Pahrump resident and Las Vegas councilwoman could have violated a Las Vegas city code that requires all City Council members to live in the district they represent. Fiore’s move has also raised questions about whether she lived in Nye County long enough before taking on the role of justice of the peace.
Now, the former candidate for state treasurer is at the center of investigations that could threaten to unseat the judge and her final vote on the city council.
Four residents of the Las Vegas neighborhood she represented asked the city council to overturn its Nov. 16 vote to approve a controversial land-use project for a convenience store that passed 4-3. The vote came a day after she put down money on a rental home in Pahrump.
Pahrump resident and former U.S. Senate candidate William Hockstedler, who had applied for the same justice of the peace position, has also asked the Nye County District Attorney’s office to recall Fiore’s nomination.
In a letter to the Nye County District Attorney’s office, Hockstedler cited an opinion from the state of Nevada that candidates for office, including justice of the peace, must live within the jurisdiction for at least 30 days before the deadline for “statements of candidacy.” or office admissions.” He referred to the Dec. 8 court filing deadline and Fiore’s “own admission” that she moved to Pahrump on Nov. 15.
The Las Vegas city attorney’s office declined to comment beyond sharing the complaints. The new Nye County District Attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
The Nevada Current first reported the potential city code violation and state opinion.
Fiore signed a check for a Pahrump rental house on Nov. 15 but did not stay overnight there until Nov. 17, her attorney Sigal Chattah wrote in a letter Tuesday to the Las Vegas city attorney. She noted that Fiore’s final city council vote came the day before Fiore “spent her first night in Pahrump.”
Fiore had previously told the council that the “exact date” of her Pahrump residency began on Nov. 15. She did not respond to requests for comment.
The former Nevada state lawmaker was unanimously elected to fill the seat on the Pahrump Justice Court through 2024, despite not having a law degree, which is not a requirement. Pahrump is located about 65 miles (100 kilometers) west of Las Vegas.
Fiore championed the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who said she would “make an absolutely fantastic Justice of the Peace,” according to a letter read by a Nye County commissioner at the December meeting.
Her nomination over nearly 20 applicants marks the latest chapter in a decade-long political career marked by scandal — including reports of an FBI investigation into her campaign finances and allegations of physical assault.
FBI agents subpoenaed and searched Fiore’s home last year in northwest Las Vegas in connection with her campaign spending, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Earlier this year, she was sued by his Las Vegas adviser, Victoria Seaman, who accused Fiore of breaking her finger in a physical altercation at City Hall in January. The two were once good friends and close political allies. Fiore’s campaign told the Reno Gazette Journal that the lawsuit was an attempt by “liberal Republicans” to hurt her chances of winning the state treasurer’s race.
In her speech to Nye County commissioners last month, Fiore said she would approach the judgeship with integrity and honesty to the role because she has “been at the bottom of the political barrel.” She also referred to the house she started renting in mid-November and said she was “so excited to be a Pahrump girl.”
Chattah, Fiore’s adviser, often appeared alongside Fiore on the campaign trail as he unsuccessfully ran for Nevada Attorney General. Chattah is also running to become the Nevada Republican Party’s national committeeman — a position Fiore left because of her judicial appointment.
Stern, who reported from Reno, Nevada, is a corps member for the Associated Press/Statehouse Report America News Initiative. Report for America is a national nonprofit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Follow Stern on Twitter: @gabestern326.