Follow the Money: Behind the scenes, legislative caucus PACs raise and spend millions

Campaign contributors in Nevada have a buffet of options when it comes to funneling money to legislative candidates; they can donate to individual lawmakers, a candidate’s political action committees or even form their own industry-specific PAC.

But there’s another option for campaign donors — funneling thousands of dollars in contributions to legislative hopefuls through the official accounts of the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the state Senate and Assembly.

Donations to these groups, which tend to fall under the radar, exceeded $2.72 million between 2015 and 2016, with the PACs in turn spending $2.76 million over the campaign cycle on a variety of expenses ranging from consultants, polling, other PACs and individual candidates.

That’s a lot of money, and it significantly exceeds contributions reported by legislative leaders such as Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson ($540,000) and Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford ($740,000) over the 2016 campaign cycle.

The data also reveals how leadership in both parties use individual caucus structure as part of the larger tentacle of Nevada campaign finance. While all four PACs analyzed reported spending money on staff and consultants, Assembly and Senate Democrats reported raising and spending slightly more than $1 million during the 2016 campaign cycle through their caucus PACs, while their Republican counterparts raised less than half that over the same time period.

Caucus spending generally went to payroll and consulting fees — the Senate Republican caucus reported spending more than $200,000 on a consulting firm run by the group’s 2015 caucus director, while Assembly Democrats spent nearly $560,000 on payroll expenses, and almost $71,000 toward a consulting group led by two former Assembly Democrats.

Contributions to the caucus PACs came from many of the regular sources that donate to individual candidates and leadership PACs. Top donors include:

  • $50,000 from the Nevada Realtors PAC to the Assembly Republican caucus
  • $96,825.17 from Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson’s campaign committee to the Assembly Democratic caucus.
  • $105,000 from DRIVE Committee (the political arm of the Teamsters union) to Senate Democrats.
  • $42,500 from Nevada Majority PAC (registered to Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer) to the Senate Republican Leadership Conference.

Using information from the Nevada Secretary of State’s online campaign finance portal, we pulled and analyzed historical campaign contributions and expenditures from the four caucus PACs since 2011. Below we’ve highlighted the major donations or expenditures made during the 2016 campaign cycle.

As always, we’ve tried to double and triple check our numbers and math, but if anything seems off feel free to contact us at rsnyder@thenvindy.com or megan@thenvindy.com

Assembly Republican Caucus

Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson is listed as the registered agent for the caucus, which raised $290,000 over the 2016 election cycle and $1.52 million since 2011. The caucus spent $364,000 this cycle, for a total of $1.57 million over its lifetime.

Contributions:

  • $50,000 from the Nevada Realtor PAC
  • $20,000 from MGM Resorts
  • $24,000 from Cox Communications
  • $20,000 from Dotty’s
  • $12,500 from Sempra Energy, which operates natural gas-fired power plants, pipelines and storage facilities
  • $12,000 from IGT (International Game Technology)
  • $10,000 from Frias Holding Company, a taxi company
  • $10,000 from Barrick Gold
  • $10,000 from Newmont Mining
  • $6,000 from AndersonPC, an IT firm owned by Anderson
  • $6,000 from the Las Vegas Police Protective Association
  • $6,000 from the Nevada Orthopedic Society’s BONE PAC
  • $5,000 from Breakthru Beverage, a wine, spirits and beer distributor
  • $5,000 from Charter Communications
  • $5,000 from Nevada Credit Union
  • $5,000 from SHLincoln PAC, a PAC formed by John Ritter, chairman and CEO of Focus Property Group
  • $5,000 from Walmart

Expenditures:

  • $174,068.80 for consultants including Eric Roberts, Nancy Mackay, Danielle Cherry (former executive assistant to Jim Gibbons), Ed Gonzalez (now a lobbyist for the Clark County Education Association), Stephen Wood, Tony Castagno, Jimmy Stracner (former state director for Dr, Ben Carson’s presidential campaign), Michael Zita, Craig Hulse and Daniel Stewart (now general counsel for Gov. Brian Sandoval.)
  • $43,603.43 to Campaign Data Solutions, a firm run by Nevada political consultant Nathan Emens, for advertising-related expenses
  • $47,250 to G1 Consulting, a Utah-based political consulting firm, for polling-related expenses
  • $14,000 to Silverstreak, LLC, registered to Republican operative Cory Christensen, for advertising-related expenses
  • $9,302 to Bonnie Weber for Assembly (former Republican assembly candidate)
  • $8,000 to Las Vegas Israelite for advertising-related expenses
  • $7,706.84 to QTS Payroll Services for paid staff and other miscellaneous expenses
  • $7,350 to the Committee to Elect Richard McArthur (Republican assemblyman)
  • $7,250 to the Committee to Elect Jim Marchant (Republican assemblyman)
  • $7,150 to Friends for Nick Phillips (former Republican assembly candidate)
  • $6,250 to Red Wave for advertising-related expenses

Assembly Democratic Caucus

The committee representing all the Democratic Assembly members reported raising $2.9 million since 2011, including $1.04 million between 2015 and 2016. It’s reported spending $2.39 million since 2011, and $1.04 million during the 2016 campaign cycle.

Contributions:

  • $96,825.17 from the Campaign Committee to Elect Jason Frierson, Assembly Speaker
  • $64,500 from the the Laborers Union, including $50,000 from the Laborers Political Education League Education Fund, $10,000 from the Laborers’ International Union of North America and $4,500 from Local 169
  • $46,512.30 from Committee to Elect Olivia Diaz, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $37,500 from the Las Vegas Police Protective Association
  • $37,500 from Citizens for Justice Trust
  • $27,771.29 from Committee to Elect Irene Bustamante Adams, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $37,500 from the International Association of Firefighters, including $20,000 from the national association, $2,500 from the Clark County Firefighters Local 1908, $2,500 from Las Vegas Firefighters Local 1285, $1,500 from the North Las Vegas Firefighters, $3,500 from the Reno Firefighters Local 731 and $7,500 from the Professional Firefighters of Nevada
  • $25,000 from Eisen for Nevada Assembly (former Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Eisen’s campaign account)
  • $25,000 from Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters
  • $25,000 from the Teamsters’ DRIVE Committee
  • $25,000 from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union
  • $27,500 from the International Union of Operating Engineers, including $27,500 from Local 3 and $567 from Local 12
  • $22,700 from Friends for Lesley Cohen, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $22,500 from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • $26,162.50 from the Nevada Association of Realtors
  • $16,000 to Committee to Elect Olivia Diaz, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $15,039.90 from Grand Sierra Resort
  • $15,000 from Caesars Enterprise Services
  • $15,000 from MGM Resorts
  • $13,500 from NV Energy
  • $12,250 from the Committee to Elect Steven Yeager, a Democratic Assemblyman
  • $12,500 from Committee to Elect Maggie Carlton, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $12,000 from Cox Communications
  • $10,062.79 to Western Leadership PAC, an inactive PAC registered to County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick
  • $10,000 from the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada
  • $10,000 from EMILY’s List, a national PAC that supports electing pro-choice Democratic women
  • $10,000 from Dotty’s
  • $10,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, including $5,000 from Local 1245 and $5,000 from the IBEW PAC Voluntary Fund
  • $10,000 from Republic Services
  • $10,000 from Frias Standard Capital, a taxi company
  • $9,499.86 from Sunrise Health care System Good Government Fund
  • $8,344.17 from Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, a law and lobbying firm
  • $7,500 from the Southern Nevada Conference of Police and Sheriffs
  • $7,000 from Committee to Elect Teresa Benitez-Thompson, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $6,900 from the Committee to Elect Sandra Jauregui, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $6,874.86 from Valley Electric Association, a non-profit electric utility company based in Pahrump
  • $6,101.30 from lobbyist Alisa Nave-Worth, a lobbyist and former director of the Senate Democratic caucus
  • $6,000 from the Committee to Elect Ozzie Fumo, a Democratic Assemblyman
  • $5,836.88 from Ellen Spiegel Campaign, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $5,640.67 from the Committee to Elect James Healey (former Democratic Assemblyman)
  • $5,278 from Williamsburg National Insurance, a national insurance company that specializes in the trucking and transportation industries
  • $5,000 from the Nevada Trucking Association
  • $5,500 from the Service Employees International Union, including $5,000 Nevada Service Employees International Union and $500 from SEIU Local 1107
  • $5,000 from Barrick Goldstrike Mines
  • $5,000 from Support the Las Vegas Dome, a PAC backing efforts to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas supported financially by the Raiders and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson
  • $5,000 from the Nevada State Education Association
  • $5,000 from Bequest, an online service that provides legal forms and legal information
  • $5,000 from Campaign for Justin Watkins, a Democratic Assemblyman
  • $5,000 from Farmers Insurance PAC
  • $5,000 from Newmont Mining Corporation
  • $5,000 from Sempra Energy, which operates natural gas-fired power plants, pipelines and storage facilities

Expenditures:

  • $559,403.02 to ADC, a payroll company, for payroll expenditures and taxes
  • $91,470 to the Nevada State Democratic Party
  • $70,967.90 to Strategies 360, whose Nevada office is run by former Democratic Assembly members Marcus Conklin and John Oceguera
  • $51,848 to Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro & Schulman, a law firm with offices in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Reno
  • $23,260.59 to Electronic Federal Tax Payment System
  • $19,378.57 to consultants including Hani Dagher and Ty Williams
  • $14,306.36 to Sierra Health & Life Insurance
  • $10,000 to Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
  • $9,971.85 to Friends for Lesley Cohen, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $9,958.33 to Campaign for Justin Watkins, a Democratic Assemblyman
  • $9,874.42 to Committee to Elect Steven Yeager, a Democratic Assemblyman
  • $9,856.33 to Nevada State Unemployment
  • $9,806.94 to Campaign for Brittney Miller, a Democratic Assemblywoman
  • $8,875.59 to Brendan Summers, the caucus’s executive director
  • $7,500 to BirdDog Research
  • $6,815.43 to Committee to Elect Ozzie Fumo, a Democratic Assemblyman

Nevada Senate Democrats

The political party committee for Nevada’s 11-member Democratic Senate is a prolific money raiser, reporting raising $1.03 million during the 2016 election cycle and spending roughly $933,000. It spent $2.6 million since 2011, and raised $2.85 million over the same period.

Contributions:

  • $105,000 from DRIVE Committee, the political arm of the Teamsters union.
  • $50,000 from the Laborers' Political League Education Fund
  • $50,000 from Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC)
  • $30,000 from MGM Resorts International
  • $25,000 from the Southwest Regional Council Of Carpenters
  • $25,000 from International Association of Fire Fighters AFL-CIO
  • $25,000 from United Food and Commercial Workers AFL-CIO
  • $25,000 from Las Vegas Police Protective Association
  • $25,000 from Operating Engineers Local #3
  • $22,500 from IUPAT, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
  • $20,632.47 from Kelvin Atkinson Election Campaign Fund Committee, a Democratic state senator.
  • $15,000 from former state Sen. Debbie Smith
  • $15,000 from EMILY’S List
  • $15,000 from Spearman for Nevada (Pat Spearman, Democratic state senator)
  • $13,034 from Committee to Elect Nicole Cannizzaro, Democratic state senator.
  • $11,000 from Cox Communications
  • $10,000 from Committee to Elect Mo Denis, a Democratic state senator
  • $10,000 from Committee to Elect Ruben Kihuen, a former Democratic state senator and current Nevada congressman
  • $10,000 from Building & Construction Trades
  • $10,000 from Laborers' International Union Local 169.
  • $10,000 from Committee to Elect Aaron Ford, the Senate Majority Leader.
  • $10,000 from Frias Standard Capital Inc
  • $10,000 from Nevada Realtors PAC
  • $10,000 from Friends for Joyce Woodhouse, the Democratic state senator.
  • $10,000 from Nevada’s Future PAC, which is led by Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford.
  • $10,000 from Eglet Law Group
  • $10,000 from NV Energy
  • $10,000 from Citizens for Justice, Trust, a PAC for trial lawyers
  • $10,000 from Dotty’s
  • $7,500 from Policy Communications, the firm of judicial candidate campaign manager Dave Thomas.
  • $7,500 from Nevada Association of Health Facilities
  • $7,500 from Republic Services, the waste and trash disposal company.
  • $6,000 from IGT
  • $5,000 from Nevada Trucking Association
  • $5,000 from Southern NV Conference of Police and Sheriffs
  • $5,000 from Sunset Station Hotel & Casino
  • $5,000 from Motor Vehicle Software Corporation
  • $5,000 from TechNet Political Action Committee
  • $5,000 from Zuffa LLC, the former UFC parent company
  • $5,000 from Visa
  • $5,000 from IBEW PAC Educational Fund, an electrical worker’s union
  • $5,000 from Nevada Service Employees Union
  • $5,000 from Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits
  • $5,000 from Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc.
  • $5,000 from Committee to Elect Mark Manendo, a Democratic state senator.
  • $5,000 from David R Parks Election Campaign Fund, a Democratic state senator.
  • $5,000 from Mike Sloan, an executive at Station Casinos.
  • $5,000 from Nevada Health PAC, a political action committee run by the Nevada Hospital Association.
  • $5,000 from Switch LTD
  • $5,000 from Whittlesea Blue Cab Co
  • $5,000 from Bequest
  • $5,000 from Laborers International Union Local 872
  • $5,000 from Nevada State Education Association Separately Segregated
  • $5,000 from Campaign to Elect Julia Ratti, Democratic state senator
  • $5,000 from Committee to Elect Tick Segerblom, Democratic state senator

Expenditures:

  • $200,200 to the Nevada State Democratic Party
  • $35,500 to Nevada Jobs Project, a political action committee entirely funded by the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus
  • $22,500 to Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, the law firm that also represents the Nevada Democratic Party
  • $18,000 to Anzalone Liszt Research, a Democratic polling firm
  • $16,000 to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm
  • $15,166.02 to AL Media, LLC., a Democratic consulting firm founded by Eric Adelstein and Ann Liston.
  • $11,500 to Majority 2016/Majority PAC 2016, a PAC led by Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford.
  • $10,000 to Committee to Elect Alexander Marks, a former state senate candidate
  • $8,117.74 to Peter Koltak, current caucus director
  • $8,082.46 to Michelle White, the former caucus director
  • $7,561.37 to Aetna, the health insurance provider
  • $7,220.77 to Southwest Airlines
  • $5,883.34 to Tina Nguyen, a former staffer
  • $4,500 to Janet Churchill, the treasurer of the Nevada State Democratic Party
  • $4,200 to NGP VAN, a Democratic digital platform for organizing and voter contact
  • $3,945 to Mad Dog Mail, which produces mailed flyers for several Democratic candidates
  • $3,000 to Chef Marc’s Trattoria, a restaurant
  • $2,500 to Tallac Strategies, a consulting firm led by Adam Czajkowski
  • $2,033.33 to Therapy Las Vegas, a restaurant
  • $2,000 to Campaign to Elect Julia Ratti, a Democratic state senator

Senate Republican Leadership Conference

The political party committee for Nevada’s eight Republican senators has raised $1.72 million since the start of 2011 while spending $1.82 million over the same time period. Over the 2016 campaign cycle, the caucus reported raising slightly more than $365,000 and spending close to $425,000 over that time period.

Contributions:

  • $42,500 from Nevada Majority PAC, which is registered to Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer
  • $30,000 from Cox Communications
  • $25,000 from MGM Resorts and MGM Resorts International
  • $10,000 from Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer
  • $10,000 from Citizens for Justice, Trust, a political action committee for trial lawyers
  • $10,000 from Dotty’s
  • $10,000 from IGT
  • $10,000 from Republican Sen. James Settelmeyer
  • $10,000 from McDonald Carano Wilson
  • $10,000 from Nevada Realtors PAC
  • $8,000 from Sunrise Health System
  • $7,500 from NVAHF PAC, the political arm of the Nevada Health Care Association.
  • $7,500 from NV Energy
  • $6,000 from Valley Electric Association Inc.
  • $6,000 from Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie
  • $5,000 from Palace Station Hotel & Casino
  • $5,000 from former Republican Sen. Randolph Townsend
  • $5,000 from Republic Silver State Disposal, the waste and trash disposal company.
  • $5,000 from Sempra Energy, a natural gas utilities company
  • $5,000 from Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits, LLC
  • $5,000 from Newmont Mining
  • $5,000 from Friends of Scott Hammond, a Republican state senator
  • $5,000 from Golden Gaming
  • $5,000 from Barrick Gold Corporation
  • $5,000 from Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • $5,000 from Nevada Anesthesia Patient Safety PAC
  • $4,500 from Associated General Contractors/AGC Build PAC
  • $4,000 from Farmers Insurance PAC
  • $4,000 from Vidler Water Co Inc.

Expenditures:

  • $200,413.26 to Stephens Consulting LLC, a consulting firm run by former Republican Senate caucus director Jodi Stephens
  • $95,000 to Nevada Jobs Coalition, which backs Republican legislative candidates.
  • $57,065 to Advanced Micro Targeting, a political consulting firm
  • $28,369.66 to October Inc., a national Republican fundraising firm
  • $10,000 to Committee to Elect Heidi Gansert, Republican state senator
  • $10,000 to Friends of Carrie Buck, a former state senate candidate
  • $10,000 to Erv Nelson for Nevada, a former state senate candidate

Disclosure: Several Indy donors are mentioned in this story. You can see a full list of donors here.