|Former Nevada lawmaker Kelvin Atkinson|
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson pleaded guilty today to withdrawing nearly $250,000 from campaign funds for his personal use.
Atkinson resigned from his Senate seat last week. He was Nevada’s first openly gay Senate leader, and only the third African-American to hold the position.
Prosecutors said Atkinson used the funds to operate a Las Vegas night club, make payments on personal credit cards and lease a luxury car, among other expenses, the release said.
Atkinson, 49, represented District 4. He was elected to the Nevada Senate in November 2012 and named majority leader in November 2018, the release said.
Atkinson admitted that between January 2010 to December 2017, he devised a scheme to mislead donors contributing to his campaign by falsely telling them he would use the donations for lawful campaign purposes, but instead used his campaign account for personal expenses, the release said.
Because of the manner in which Atkinson withdrew the money, an exact amount is not known, the release said. But Atkinson admitted to spending nearly $250,000 of unreported withdrawals on personal expenses. His personal spending of campaign funds included $100,000 in payments on his personal credit cards, $75,000 toward opening and operating a night club and $20,000 on leasing a Jaguar SUV, among other expenses.
The statutory maximum sentence for wire fraud is 20 years, the release said. Atkinson has agreed to pay $249,900 in restitution.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 11.
Atkinson famously came out during a 2013 debate in the Senate regarding repealing Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The following year, he and his husband were among the first same-sex couples to be married in Nevada.
As a proud gay Democratic Nevadan, living in Las Vegas for 15 years, I’m disgusted that Atkinson would be so unethical.
There are no excuses for such a blatant disregard for the law and personal integrity.