State controller's death stuns Valley Republicans

Donna Baushke, who is active in Republican affairs, said Nevada State Controller Kathy Augustine was an unwavering supporter of local Republican groups.

Augustine died Tuesday at Wahoe Medical Center after suffering a massive heart attack over the weekend. She was 50.

"I can only reflect on what I knew, my personal experience," Baushke said. "I'm going to miss her.

"Whenever we had fundraisers, Kathy was there with bags of donations. She never said no to any cause," she said. "Kathy's Republican beliefs were very strong. I never saw her waiver."

Baushke said she knew Augustine for four years and in the last two, their friendship was "very comfortable." The loss will be felt among Republican women here and she won't be forgotten.

"She was so down-to-earth and she never lost sight of the people she was representing," Baushke said. "Some politicians only show up during an election year, but she was always here."

Douglas County Republican Mary Jane Harding said Augustine was competent, able, and not afraid to say what she thought was right.

"She was a wonderful friend and I loved her dearly," she said. "I felt she was a scapegoat at the Capitol building, but she handled it like a trooper and a lady."

Impeached by the Assembly for using state equipment for her 2002 campaign, Augustine was censured but not removed from office by the state Senate. She was also fined $15,000 by the state Ethics Commission, according to an Associated Press report.

"The lady made a mistake and she paid for it," said County Commissioner Kelly Kite. "Only one of us has ever been perfect and He hasn't been around for a long time."

Kite said Augustine's presence here provided an important link between state and local government.

"It's always nice to have people from state level here, so we can exchange information and they can better understand problems in the smaller rural counties," he said.

Baushke said Augustine's local involvement extended beyond Douglas County.

"I'm District Director of the Nevada Northern Republican Women and I visit other clubs," she said. "I recently visited the Yerington Republicans and there she was, with her husband."

Baushke said she will always be glad she took the extra time to give Augustine a big hug and thank her for her support at a Republican lunch meeting just last week.

"I've done nothing but cry over this last day, but I would have felt so much worse if I hadn't thanked her," she said.

Augustine's husband, Chaz Higgs, said campaign stress was to blame for his wife's heart attack. She faced fundraising difficulties and opposition from within her own party in her bid for state treasurer.

She couldn't seek a third four-year term for controller due to term limit provisions.

State election officials say it's too late to remove Augustine's name from Nevada's Aug. 15 primary ballot. Early voting starts July 29. Augustine was in a three-way race for the Republican nomination for state treasurer, facing Mark DeStefano and Joseph Pitts.

Memorial service will be Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Guardian Angel Catherdral in Las Vegas.

Born in 1956 in Los Angeles, Augustine earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Occidental College and a master's in public administration from Cal State Long Beach. Before entering politics, she taught math and English in Las Vegas.

"Kathy's massive heart attack was very shocking," said Republican National Committeewoman Beverly Willard. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family."

Augustine is survivedby her husband Chaz Higgs and two daughters, Dallas and Desiree. Funeral services are scheduled for this weekend in Las Vegas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.

- Augustine, Kathy - 853-3090 -


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