Homeowners associations in the Las Vegas Valley are notable, by and large, for two things: unpopularity and apathy. In other words, everyone loves to complain about the restrictive rules and regulations imposed by HOAs, but when it comes time to get involved in HOA administration, no hands go up. Even worse, those ballots you get in the mail to vote on your HOA’s board of directors are being largely ignored. After all, most of us, no matter how much we bitch and moan, are either too busy to care about how our board is managed or take it on faith that everything will turn out right without our help.
Guess again. Steve Wark, a political consultant of no small repute, managed to defraud HOAs across the Valley, getting his hand-picked people—called “straw purchasers” in the charging documents—elected onto boards in order to make sure those boards awarded construction defect contracts to one particular construction company.
Wark, who has admitted his role in this, is helping Justice Department prosecutors nail his co-conspirators in return for a reduced sentence. Nearly a dozen HOAs are now involved in the scandal, with nearly two dozen individuals being targeted.
How did Wark accomplish all this? Conducting phony telephone surveys, hiring private investigators to get dirt on board nominees and forging ballots were among his methods. As elaborate and scummy as this all is, in a way it can almost be seen as a good thing—a wake-up call to the previously indifferent. Next time you get that ballot in the mail, open it and get involved. Think of it as a neighborhood watch.