Dale Erquiaga


During America's "Progressive Era" (1890s through 1920s, ) populists in Nevada adopted several major political reforms, including initiative, referendum, and recall. The right to referendum was the first reform, enacted in 1904. Referendum is a direct vote of the people whether to approve or repeal a law enacted by the state legislature. A referendum (or public vote) occurs only after the legislature passes a law, and in Nevada, a referendum can only be amended by another vote of the people.

Recall Elections

Introduction: The right to recall a public officer was added to the Nevada Constitution in 1912. By circulating a petition and qualifying for the ballot, voters can remove any elected official except a United States Senator or Representative in Congress. Between 1993 and 2004, 108 notices of recall were filed with the secretary of state.

Nevada State Treasurers

The Nevada Constitution provides for six elected offices, including the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, controller, and treasurer. The treasurer is elected statewide for a four-year term and is an integral part of the checks and balances in the state's accounting system. As custodian of the state's money, he or she is responsible for banking the money and investing the "idle cash," or the money that does not have to be spent that day on the state's behalf.

Mapes Hotel and Casino, Reno

The Mapes Hotel and Casino was the first major high-rise hotel built in this country after World War II. When the twelve-story Mapes Hotel opened in the heart of Reno in December 1947, it was the tallest building in Nevada. The hotel was significant in the development of the tourism industry and was the forerunner of the Nevada casino-hotels built specifically to offer gaming, guest accommodations, restaurants, bars, and big name entertainment.

Lake Mansion, Reno

Reno's Lake Mansion was completed in 1877 for one of the area's prominent families. It was later owned by Reno founder Myron Lake and other important families in Reno's history. Washington Jerome "Rome" Marsh, a wealthy rancher and land developer, and his wife Maria (or "Ria") bought land on the northwest corner of South Virginia Street and California Avenue from Lake for $375 in June 1876, and built the house for their seven children at this location over the next year.


The "Progressive Era" of American political reform (1890s through 1920s) brought three populist provisions to the Nevada Constitution: initiative, referendum, and recall. The initiative process enables voters to propose and enact laws by a vote of the people. In 1909 and again in 1911, as required by the constitution, the Nevada legislature passed legislation to provide for initiative petitions to enact new laws. The initiative amendment was approved by the voters at the general election of 1912 by a vote of 9,956 to 1,027.

Goldfield Hotel

The Goldfield Hotel was built in the boomtown of Goldfield, Nevada. The hotel was constructed at the site where two previous wooden hotels had stood. Both the earlier hotels burned down in major fires in 1905 and 1906.

Eben Rhodes

The first man to hold the office of Nevada state treasurer may have been the most notorious. Accused of embezzling over $100,000 from the permanent school fund and other state accounts, Ebenezer "Eben" Rhodes died a mysterious death and set off a political firestorm that preoccupied state officials for almost four years after his death. No other state officials were ever charged with wrongdoing, and the bondsmen who had vouched for Rhoades' character were relieved of any liability.

Cole-Malley Embezzlement

In perhaps the largest and best-known political and financial scandal in Nevada history—State Treasurer Ed Malley and State Controller George Cole embezzled $516,322.16 from the state treasury in the 1920s. With the assistance of a cashier of the Carson Valley Bank, the two began to divert state funds for their own benefit in 1919. With this money, they invested in Tonopah mining stocks and Signal Hill Oil Company. The oil wells came up dry, so the money was lost.

Campaign Finance

Nevada's first attempts to regulate campaign finance occurred in the 1890s with the birth of the Silver Party and state legislators who introduced the first campaign finance reform measure in 1895. Modern campaign finance law continues to develop in Nevada and now requires reports of campaign contributions and expenditures, places limits on the amount one person can contribute to a candidate or question, and regulates the time period for contributions.


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