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Laxalt boosted by 'issue' ads from group with ties to Republican dark money PACs

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Campaign Ads 2018Election 2018

A recently formed political organization linked to conservative dark-money groups is running thinly veiled “issue” ads urging voters to call and support Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt.

Tenth Amendment Project, which previously reserved more than $250,000 in advertising time in September and recently placed another buy at a Reno television station for October, is behind at least two new ads asking viewers to call the Nevada attorney general’s office to “thank” Laxalt for establishing an elder fraud unit and creating a free legal aid service for military veterans.

No group with that title is registered with the Nevada secretary of state, although it shares a name with a Tenth Amendment Action Project Super PAC formed this year. But the Super PAC has only reported raising $100,000 since February, while the group in Nevada has reserved at least twice that in advertising.

The Super PAC’s listed treasurer, Maria Wojciechowski, serves in similar roles for Republican-backed Super PACs funded largely by Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, who is a major campaign contributor to Laxalt.

Typically, any organization running politically oriented ads is required to register with the Nevada secretary of state as a political action committee and disclose its donors and spending. But several groups in both this election cycle and in previous ones have tried to circumvent the requirements by avoiding direct election phrasing such as “vote for” and asking viewers to call and thank or complain to a specific office-holder.

A group called United for a Better Tomorrow ran ads slamming Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Giunchigliani ahead of the 2018 primary and has refused to disclose its donors despite a specific request by the Nevada secretary of state’s office.

In 2010, a nonprofit called Alliance for America’s Future ran more than $200,000 worth of ads boosting Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval in similar “issue ads” but refused to register as a PAC. After a four-year court battle brought on by former Secretary of State Ross Miller, the group was required to disclose its donors and pay a $40,000 fine.

Organizations with a similar “10th Amendment Project” name have also gotten involved in several state-specific battles, including running radio ads and mail pieces on legislative races in Nebraska and about Oklahoma’s 2018 special legislative session, which included producing at least two videos. A similarly named group also registered to Wojciechowski — Tenth Amendment Action Project — is also registered in South Dakota, and reported spending $45,000 in the state’s gubernatorial primary between Marty Jackley and Kristi Noem.

The group also ran ads in Florida’s Republican gubernatorial primary attacking Adam Putnam, who lost to Ron DeSantis.


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