One of the top Republican-supporting political action committees of the 2020 election cycle is already close to matching its prior fundraising totals more than a year and a half away from the 2022 midterms thanks to a major $2 million contribution by a prominent Las Vegas real estate developer.
The Stronger Nevada PAC, which is led by former Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, reported raising a sizable $2.1 million between April 1 and the end of June 2021 — approaching the total amount raised by the PAC ($2.6 million) through the two years of the 2020 election cycle (Nevada law allows state-based political action committees to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money).
In a statement, Hutchison — who strongly considered a gubernatorial run in 2022 but opted to endorse Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo — said the group will be “fully engaged” in the 2022 midterm election cycle and promised to go “even bigger next year.”
“Our fundraising efforts have gone well, and we expect more Nevadans to join our efforts to protect and strengthen Nevada,” he said in a statement to The Nevada Independent.
Ahead of the 2020 elections, the PAC spent nearly $2 million on a targeted suite of television, digital and mail advertising focused on an open Nevada Supreme Court seat and a handful of swing legislative races — taking credit for assisting with Republican down-ballot success.
Political activity by the PAC has been slower in recent months, though the PAC has run a handful of ads on Facebook attacking Critical Race Theory, accusing Democrats of discrediting election integrity and lobbing several thinly veiled attacks against Sisolak. None of the ads so far has mentioned Lombardo, or other Republican gubernatorial candidates.
Driving the PAC’s fundraising total was a $2 million contribution made on June 29 by Sedona Magnet LLC, a company registered in Nevada in November 2020 that lists prominent Las Vegas businessman Robert T. Bigelow as its sole officer (Sedona Magnet LLC also lists the same address as Bigelow Aerospace).
Perhaps best-known for a decades-long interest in UFOs, Bigelow — described by The New York Times as a “maverick Las Vegas real estate and aerospace mogul with billionaire allure” — is the owner of extended stay apartment chain Budget Suites of America and hundreds of other properties and real estate developments. Bigelow's company has pushed back against state and federal eviction moratoriums — filing “at least 46 eviction actions in Texas and Arizona and obtained court judgments in its favor in half of those cases.”
As a political donor, Bigelow has given primarily to Republican candidates and causes, but has also made contributions to figures on the other side of the political aisle — including nearly $20,000 to then-Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak in 2011. The $2 million contribution to Stronger Nevada PAC, however, dwarfs the $124,000 cumulative given in past decades to state-level candidates and organizations.
A call to Bigelow Aerospace regarding the donation was not returned on Thursday.
Bigelow (through Sedona Magnet LLC) wasn’t the only major contributor to the Stronger Nevada PAC — the organization also received a $100,000 contribution from SBW Capital LLC, a corporate entity affiliated with formerly incarcerated sports bettor and developer Billy Walters. The same entity — along with nine others linked to Walters — also gave a maximum $10,000 contributions (for a total of $100,000) to Sisolak ahead of the 2018 election.
Stronger Nevada PAC also received a $25,000 contribution from Joseph Otting, a Las Vegas-based banking executive who served as the federal Comptroller of the Currency under President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2020.
In the 2020 election cycle, the PAC received several large contributions from 501(c)4 nonprofit advocacy and social welfare organizations — which are not required to reveal their donors. It received nearly $1 million from American Exceptionalism Institute, Inc.
A recent report by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington indicated that Nevada Gold Mines — a joint venture between mining companies Newmont and Barrick — contributed $750,000 to American Exceptionalism Institute, most likely for political activities in Nevada. The Nevada Gold Mines company separately contributed $500,000 to the PAC last year as well.