Connecting the Dots: Lobbyists line up clients as 2017 session tees off
By Megan Messerly and Riley Snyder
Nevada lawmakers come and go, but one thing remains the same year after year in Carson City — the hordes of mostly well-dressed, well-spoken lobbyists who do their best to influence legislative outcomes.
So far, more than 350 lobbyists have officially registered to lobby the 79th session of the Nevada Legislature, and many more are likely to show up in the following weeks and months ahead.
Lobbyists play an outsize role in the lawmaking process, amplified by Nevada’s part-time Legislature and the effect of term limits, which means there’s a cadre of fresh faces each legislative session.
But there are no term limits for lobbyists, which means powerful groups and law firms like McDonald Carano Wilson, The Ferraro Group and Fennemore Craig are able to leverage long-standing relations and institutional knowledge to wield considerable influence for their many clients.
The Nevada Independent tracked and listed major lobbyist groups and who they’re representing this legislative cycle, as well as former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists and any others that caught our eye. Because lobbyists are still registering and the online database is still being added to, there are some notable firms missing from our analysis —Griffin Rowe LLP, R&R Partners and Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie to name a few — but listed below are some of the state’s biggest lobbying forces and the various interests they represent.
And, for more perspective, take a look at the below chart to see the connections between lobbyists, their clients and the lawmakers lobbyists donated to ahead of the 2016 election.
MAJOR LOBBYING FIRMS:
McDonald Carano Wilson: A law firm with offices in Las Vegas and Reno, McDonald Carano Wilson also has a government affairs division that will be representing more than two dozen clients this session, including the Oakland Raiders. Their lobbyists include Christiana Cabrera, Susan Fisher, Gov. Jim Gibbons’ former chief of staff Joshua Hicks, Kathleen Conaboy, Tyson Falk, Gov. Brian Sandoval's former general counsel and policy director Lucas Foletta and Lauren Brooks.
- Aetna, a health insurance provider
- American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, a national cancer advocacy organization
- Beacon Trust, an investment management, planning and trust services firm
- Bennett Medical Services, a home medical equipment company providing services in Nevada and three other Western states
- Connected Nation, a technology organization that offers broadband planning services, from broadband mapping to public policy language
- Consumer Data Industry Association, an international trade organization with more than 120 corporate members focusing on the responsible use of consumer data
- Green Tech Action Fund, a nonpartisan not-for-profit grant making organization that promotes new markets for clean energy technology
- Infinite Campus, a student information system provider utilized by the Nevada Department of Education
- KTI, Inc., a Wyoming-based company that runs Public Safety Online, a web-based application that transmits video from camera systems directly to police, fire and other emergency responders or dispatch centers
- Nevada Homebuilders Association, representing residential construction industry interests across the state
- Nevada Mineral Exploration Coalition, a coalition of the exploration, research and development segments of the mining industry
- Nevada Museum of Art, an art museum in Reno
- Nevada Orthopaedic Society, an association of orthopaedic practitioners in Nevada
- Nevada Rural Housing Authority, a quasi-governmental unit not subject to the state’s budgetary process that promotes, provides and finances affordable housing opportunities for rural Nevadans
- Nevada State Apartment Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the multi-housing industry in Nevada.
- Nevada State Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors, the state board that reviews and approves applications for licensing professional engineers and land surveyors.
- Nevada State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, a statewide association of doctors of osteopathic medicine
- Oakland Raiders, the NFL team whose owner Mark Davis wants to build a $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas and relocate the team there
- Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, the owner and operator of the Reno-Tahoe International and Reno-Stead airports.
- Secundo Vita, a development company behind a 17-acre project in downtown Reno
- Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, a trade organization representing more than 500 members working in various aspects of the homebuilding industry.
- Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, a nonprofit that promotes greater energy efficiency in Nevada and five other Western states.
- SunStreet, a solar and home automation technology company; Jeremy Susac, the company’s vice president of government affairs, chairs the Nevada Governor’s Technical Advisory Committee for Distributed Generation and Storage and the Nevada Solar Energy Industry Association
- Teachers of Tomorrow a teacher certification program that was approved in November as an alternative route to teaching licensure in Nevada.
- Willing Bequest, an online service that provides legal forms and legal information
- YMCA of Southern Nevada, a local branch of the national community organization
The Ferraro Group: The prolific public affairs and lobbying group founded by longtime lobbyist and adviser to Gov. Brian Sandoval, Greg Ferraro, is representing more than two dozen clients in the upcoming session, including several large businesses, taxi companies and even a baseball team. They’re employing the following lobbyists this session: Misty Grimmer, Gabriele McGregor, Bob Ostrovsky, Michael Sullivan and Nicole Willis-Grimes.
- 3M Corporation, a manufacturing giant located in Minnesota.
- Apple Inc., the computing and technology giant. The company has a massive data center located outside of Reno.
- California Automotive Wholesalers’ Association, a nonprofit trade association “representing automotive aftermarket parts manufacturers, jobbers, warehouse distributors and retailers in California, Nevada, and Arizona.”
- Centene Corporation, a health insurance provider that works with states to offer insurance through “Medicaid, Medicare and the Health Insurance Marketplace and other Health Solutions.” The business is not currently operating in Nevada.
- Cox Communications Inc., the telecommunications giant that provides Internet, television and home phone service.
- Dacole-Breitling, a watch dealer in Reno.
- E.L. Wiegand Foundation, a Reno-based nonprofit that supports the arts.
- Employers Insurance Group, a Reno-based insurance group that provides worker’s compensation insurance and “services to select, small American businesses”
- Frias Transportation, a taxi company in Las Vegas.
- JP Morgan Chase Holdings, the massive financial services firm.
- Las Vegas Limousines, a limousine company based in Las Vegas that’s part of the Frias Transportation group.
- Minden Gardnerville Sanitation District, a sanitation district in rural northern Nevada.
- NV Energy, the state’s energy monopoly owned by the Warren Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway
- Nevada Resort Association, a trade association representing the state’s casino and gaming industry.
- Nevada State Athletic Commission, the state’s official sanctioning agency for events like boxing.
- Nevada State Contractors Board, a state agency overseeing the licensing of contractors.
- North Vista Hospital, a 177-bed hospital located in North Las Vegas.
- Reno Aces, a Triple AAA baseball franchise located in Reno affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
- Scientific Games International, a global casino gaming technology company.
- Select Management Resources, a Georgia-based payday lender that is the parent company of LoanMax.
- Sierra Pacific Power, a subsidiary of NV Energy
- South Tahoe Alliance of Resorts
- Truckee River Flood Management Authority, a cooperative local agreement made up of the cities of Reno and Sparks, Washoe County, the US Army Corps of Engineers and other stakeholders.
- Waste Management Inc., a curbside trash and recycling service that operates in Northern Nevada.
Kolesar & Leatham: A major law firm in Las Vegas that employs Republican Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson as one of its attorneys. The firm’s government affairs practice lists five attorney-lobbyists — former Gov. Bob List, Joseph Brown, Matthew Saltzman, Matthew Dushoff and Zev Kaplan — on its website, though Brown is the only registered lobbyist listed in the state’s portal.
- Breakthru Beverage, a statewide distributor of wine, spirits and beer — formerly known as Wirtz Beverage Nevada.
- NV Energy, the state’s energy monopoly owned by the Warren Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway
- Security Finance, a company that offers installment loans with offices in Nevada
- Sterling Bank Services Inc., a company that provides financial, security and operational equipment to banks and financial institutions in the United States and internationally
Capitol Partners: A lobbying firm with offices in Carson City and Reno, Capitol Partners is representing a variety of mining and municipal interests this session. Nick Vander Poel and William Adler are both lobbying for the company this session.
- Albemarle Corporation, a lithium mining company operating Silver Peak mine in Esmeralda County
- Cigar Association of America, the national trade organization of cigar manufacturers, importers and distributors and suppliers to the industry.
- City of Fernley
- Northern Nevada Development Authority, the economic development authority for the Sierra Region, including Carson City and Churchill, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties.
- Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
- Reno/Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority, the marketing organization for Washoe County to promote convention and tourism businesses, which also owns and operates several facilities
Argentum Partners: A public relations and lobbying firm whose clients this session include the pro-school voucher organization EdChoice, Uber and Las Vegas Sands Corp. Their lobbyists this session include Erik Jimenez, Paul Klein, John Sande and Chase Whittemore.
- American Advertising Federation, an organization that represents members across all disciplines and career levels in advertising
- Connections Education, a provider of virtual education for students in grades K-12 which operates a K-12 virtual charter school, Nevada Connections Academy. The school has faced the threat of closure after being flagged for a low graduation rate, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
- EdChoice, one of the leading education reform organizations supporting school voucher programs.
- eDealer Services, a subsidiary of the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association which developed an Electronic Lien and Title program with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Express Scripts, an integrated pharmacy benefit management service
- Frey Ranch Distillery, a distillery in Fallon that produces vodka, gin, whiskey and absinthe
- Grand Sierra Resort, a hotel and casino in Reno
- High Sierra Industries, a not-for-profit organization based in Reno that researches, develops and delivers learning systems for people with disabilities and those who support them.
- Las Vegas Sands Corp., a worldwide casino and resort company
- Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, a Reno-based sportsmen’s group
- Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association, a nonprofit trade association that advocates for factory franchised motor vehicle dealers
- Southern Nevada Health District, a public health organization that serves 2.1 million residents, offering various services and providing regulatory supervision.
- Uber, a ride-sharing company
- United Cerebral Palsy of Nevada, an organization that provides services and programs to people with disabilities
- Universal Health Services of Delaware, one of the largest hospital management companies in the United States; one of its subsidiaries owns the Valley Health System, which includes Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center, Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center, Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, Valley Hospital Medical Center and Henderson Hospital.
Fennemore Craig: A regional law firm in the Mountain West, Fennemore Craig has offices in Las Vegas and Reno in Nevada. Lobbyists working for Fennemore Craig this session include Harris Armstrong, Tyre Gray, Jesse Wadhams, James Wadhams and former U.S. Sen. and Nevada Gov. Richard Bryan.
- Alliant Insurance Services, a commercial insurance brokerage, risk management and employee benefits firm
- American Insurance Association, a property-casualty insurance trade organization
- American Share, a member-owned, private share insurer.
- Anthem Inc., an American health insurance company
- Asurion, a provider of insurance, warranty and support services for cell phones, consumer electronics and home appliances
- Blackbird Logistics, a company that provides marijuana transport, patient delivery and software for dispensaries, production and cultivation facilities in Nevada.
- Frias Holding Co., a taxi operator in Southern Nevada
- Golden Gaming, a casino company that operates gaming devices in bars, taverns, convenience and grocery stores, the PT’s Pub chain and the Pahrump Nugget Hotel & Casino, Gold Town Casino and Lakeside Casino and RV Park in Pahrump
- Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the official marketing organization for Las Vegas, which also operates the Las Vegas Convention Center and Cashman Center
- Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, a business organization in Southern Nevada that has thousands of member businesses across a variety of industries
- Mednax, a nationwide provider of maternal-fetal, newborn, pediatric subspecialty and anesthesia physician services; Mednax acquired Associated Anesthesiologists of Reno, a private anesthesiology practice, in August
- Service Contract Industry Council, a national trade organization that advocates over the service contract industry whose member companies include prominent manufacturers, insurers, retailers and providers and administrators of service contracts
- Nevada Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, representing licensed life insurance agents and financial advisors in the state
- Nevada Hospital Association, a not-for-profit statewide trade association representing acute care hospitals, specialty hospitals and other health care organizations
- Nevada Independent Insurance Agents, an association of more than 2,500 individual insurance agents and brokers, customer service representatives and other miscellaneous employees in Nevada
- Nevada Mutual Insurance Company, an insurance company owned entirely by its policyholders that offers medical professional liability insurance to Nevada doctors
- Nevada Rural Electric Assn. - Reno, which represents publicly-owned electric cooperatives, power districts and municipalities.
- Nevada State Association. of Health Underwriters, a health insurance trade group that represents “licensed health insurance agents, brokers, general agents, consultants and benefit professionals.”
- Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Residential Design, which is a state board that oversees “administration, regulation and enforcement of the professions of architecture, registered interior design and residential design in Nevada.”
- Nevada Surplus Lines Association., an agency that assists the state’s Division of Insurance with regulating “surplus lines” of insurance, which are offered by insurers not located in the state and can take riskier policies.
- Newmont Mining Corp./Gold Co., one of the state’s largest gold mining companies that owns 11 surface mines, eight underground mines and 13 processing facilities in the state.
- Recurrent Energy, LLC, a renewable energy subsidiary of Canadian Solar that operates dozens of solar farms primarily in California.
- Touro University, a private, nonprofit medical school located in Henderson. It’s lead by former Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkely.
j3 Strategies: Robert Uithoven’s public affairs and lobbying firm, j3 Strategies lists Uithoven and Tessa Laxalt, sister of Attorney General Adam Laxalt as its lobbyists this session. (Uithoven also is a campaign consultant for Adam Laxalt.)
- Las Vegas Sands Corp., a worldwide casino and resort company
- Nevada CPA Association
- Nevada Trucking Association
- Retail Energy Supplier Association, an association of retail energy suppliers that advocates for competitive retail energy markets
- TrackingPoint, a Texas-based technology company that created precision-guided firearms
LEGISLATORS TURNED LOBBYISTS:
John Oceguera: Former Democratic Assembly Speaker and congressional candidate John Oceguera hasn’t shied away from taking on lobbying clients as a member of Strategies 360 — he’s listed as a lobbyist for more than two dozen groups, including:
- American Federation for Children, a school choice group formerly led by Betsy DeVos
- Apollo, a for-profit education group that operates the University of Phoenix and other for-profit colleges.
- Breakthru Beverage, a major wine and liquor distributor.
- Civics Education Initiative, a civics-focused nonprofit that’s run as a branch of the Arizona based Joe Foss institute.
- CPCM Holdings, a year-old company that lists Las Vegas business executive Phillip Peckman as one of its managers.
- Eli Lilly & Company, a global pharmaceutical company based in Indiana.
- Excellence in Education National, Inc, a pro-school choice group founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
- Full House Gaming, a casino company that owns two casinos in Nevada and three out-of-state. The CEO, Dan Lee, is the husband to one of Oceguera’s former congressional opponents, Susie Lee.
- Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal group that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions
- Integral Associates, a medical marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas.
- Las Vegas Sands, a major gaming giant that owns the Palazzo and Venetian and is led by Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.
- Multistate, an insurance group based in California.
- Nevada Association of Anesthesiologists, a trade association of anesthesiologists
- Nevada Justice Association, a trade association of trial lawyers.
- Nevada Mortgage Lending Association, a trade association representing “all aspects of the residential lending environment.”
- NuLeaf, Inc., a medical marijuana provider with branches in Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas
- Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank.
- Reno/Sparks Indian Colony, a Native American colony made up of three Northern Nevada tribes.
- Security Finance Co., a South Carolina based financial company that offers “traditional installment loans” and has several branches in Nevada.
- TerraTech, a publicly-traded marijuana cultivator.
Danny Thompson: The longtime labor leader and former Assemblyman officially retired from leading the state’s AFL-CIO last year, but he’s back in Carson City as a paid lobbyist for a handful of Las-Vegas based unions:
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 396
- Laborers Local 872/AFL-CIO
- Professional Firefighters of Nevada
- Teamster Local 14
Ernie Adler: The former state senator is up at the Legislature lobbying on behalf of his law firm. His son, Benjamin, is also lobbying on behalf of the firm. His other son, William, is a lobbyist at Capitol Partners.
Warren Hardy: The former Republican state senator who stepped down in 2009 to lobby for a construction trade group is back again this session, with his current client list including the City of Mesquite and SA Recycling.
OTHER NOTABLE LOBBYISTS
Mitch Fox: The former host of Nevada Week in Review and City of North Las Vegas public information officer is listed as a lobbyist for the Porter Group, a Washington D.C. based lobbying firm founded by former Nevada Congressman Jon Porter.
Allen Biaggi: Biaggi, who spent 30 years in government and retired in 2010 as administrator of the state’s Division of Environmental Protection, is back lobbying for the Nevada Mining Association. He was hired by the group in 2010.
Dan Musgrove: The former vice president of government affairs for McDonald Carano Wilson, Musgrove started his own firm in 2010.
- Anthem Inc., an American health insurance company
- CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA auto and home insurance group
- Mechanical Contractors Association of Las Vegas
- Northern Nevada Medical Center, an acute care hospital serving Sparks, Reno and the surrounding area
- Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association of Southern Nevada, which provides products, services and representation to member businesses, working closely with the Sheet Metal Workers Local 88
- Summerlin Hospital, a for-profit hospital owned by Valley Health System
- Valley Health System, a hospital network in Southern Nevada that includes Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center, Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center, Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, Valley Hospital Medical Center and Henderson Hospital.
- Unified Construction Industry Council, a labor management comprised mostly of the labor unions making up the Southern Nevada Building Trades Council.
- WestCare of Nevada, a nonprofit organization that provides a variety of health and human services, including substance abuse and addiction treatment, homeless and runaway shelters, domestic violence treatment and prevention and mental health programs.
Kit Carson: Carson, named for the legendary frontiersman and explorer, is a full-time lobbyist for the law offices of Law Offices of Joseph Guild.
Photo: Nevada Mining Association lobbyist Dylan Shaver checks his phone during the opening day of the Nevada Legislature. Photo by David Calvert.
Disclosure: Several Indy donors are mentioned in this story. You can see a full list of donors here.