(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Republican state treasurer candidate Steve Martin faced off against Democratic incumbent Kate Marshall in a debate Monday, with Martin continuing to criticize his opponent for failing to fully disclose details of a $50 million failed 2008 investment.
Marshall countered that she fully disclosed the loss with the September 2008 bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers and rejected any suggestion by Martin that she should have been aware of the impending failure of the firm that cost states and local governments $3 billion nationwide.
Martin took the opportunity during the debate on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program to correct the suggestion that he had lost money for his private clients with the Lehman Brothers collapse, a claim made by Marshall and her staff.
Martin said he was not providing investment advice at the time and so could not have lost his clients any money.
Marshall emphasized her leadership in her first term as treasurer and rejected Martin’s criticisms that she misled the Legislature about the financial status of the Millennium Scholarship program or mismanaged the office’s unclaimed property fund.
An audit of the unclaimed property fund did identify areas that needed to be fixed, but she said: “I think the first paragraph of the audit says it all, it says that our office has done a phenomenal job.”
Martin, a certified public accountant, also said he is better qualified to serve as treasurer given his financial background versus Marshall, who is an attorney.
Martin again emphasized the $50 million Lehman loss and the failure of Marshall to be up front about it.
“If they say they have transparency in the office, why did the report that was filed in 2009 make no mention of Lehman Brothers,” he asked. “Why in June of 2010 did the treasurer request an attorney general’s opinion that said we couldn’t talk about this at the Board of Finance meeting.”
Martin also asked why the next Board of Finance meeting was delayed until after the Nov. 2 general election.
Marshall countered by saying she disclosed the Lehman loss the day after the company filed for bankruptcy. The loss to the state may now be less than $50 million because Lehman Brothers is now profitable, she said.
“First off I think it is dishonorable to say that I should have known when my opponent admits his own clients lost money on Lehman’s, so I find that a disingenuous statement,” she said.
Martin said Marshall’s comment is in error.
“Well let’s correct the record right now,” he said. “None of my clients lost money in the stock market. Absolutely none. That is twice your office has accused me of having said that. It is absolutely incorrect.”