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Spending spree continues in heated Democratic gubernatorial primary, with Sisolak leading the charge

Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels
Megan Messerly
Megan Messerly
Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Jackie Valley
Jackie Valley
Election 2018

Candidates for statewide and legislative races are on the home stretch for the primaries, and financial disclosures they filed before a Friday deadline show it’s an expensive stretch for many.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak burned through more than $1 million in the most recent three-week filing period, which ran from May 19 to June 7. That continues a spending spree that was already $5.2 million in the first 4 ½ months as he blankets the airwaves trying to defeat underdog fellow Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who spent just under half a million dollars.

Sisolak raised more than double what Giunchigliani did during the period, although multimillion dollar assistance from outside groups is helping her stay in the race.

Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt spent about $225,000 more than he took in during the most recent filing period. He doesn’t have fierce competition in his primary for governor, but much of it was spent on ads — he was up on TV with a positive spot during Thursday’s final Stanley Cup championship game featuring the Vegas Golden Knights.

Other prominent races include brothel owner Dennis Hof’s Assembly bid to oust Pahrump Republican incumbent James Oscarson. Allegations of sexual misconduct and criticisms over taxes have flown in their expensive battle for an Assembly seat, which has also featured a visit from prominent pro-Donald Trump operative Roger Stone on Hof’s behalf.

And in the race for Clark County District Attorney, incumbent Steve Wolfson is trying to fend off challenger Rob Langford, who entered the race late but is being bolstered by significant spending by outside groups with ties to liberal billionaire George Soros.

Here’s a look at the latest campaign finance reports.


On the Democratic side, Sisolak brought in more than $363,000 over the reporting period, while spending more than $1 million.

He took in 17 donations of $10,000, the maximum amount a single entity is allowed to give per election cycle. Many of the donations appeared to come from the same parent entity — at least $30,000 combined from Fidelity National Title Group, Cannae Holdings LLC and FNTS Holdings LLC, all of which sent checks on the same day and listed the same address in Jacksonville, Florida.

He took in another $30,000 combined from prominent Las Vegas construction magnate Bill Richardson, his wife Linda and an entity called Sunglow LLC, all of which list the same address. He also received $5,000 from fellow Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown’s campaign account.

At least $955,000 of his reported $1 million in expenditures were earmarked for advertising. Since the start of the year, his campaign has reported spending more than $6.3 million.

His top opponent, Giunchigliani, reported raising more than $164,000 over the reporting period, while spending just over $494,000.

Her top contributor over the reporting period was Caesar’s Palace, which gave her a combined $10,000 from the casino giant’s namesake and Paris Las Vegas. She also received $5,000 each from Massachusetts philanthropist Barbara Lee, Las Vegas law firm Maier Gutierrez & Associates and Total Wine founder David Trone and his wife, June.

She also received $2,000 from Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson and $1,000 from Assemblyman Justin Watkins, who is not running for reelection.

More than $395,000 of her reported $494,000 in expenditures went towards advertising costs.

Giunchigliani is getting a significant leg up from outside groups, including a PAC formed by EMILY’s List called “Women Vote!.” The group reported raising $1.36 million over the three weeks of the reporting period, and spending nearly all of it on advertisements.

She received help from Strong Public Schools Nevada, a PAC backed by the Nevada State Education Association and funded by the teacher’s union, their national parent and the local Service Employees International Union. The group reported raising $800,000 over the fundraising period, and spending $560,000 on advertising.

Republican Treasurer Dan Schwartz loaned his campaign another $75,000 during the reporting period, and spending nearly $83,000. In total, he’s loaned his campaign around $390,000 since the start of 2017.

Laxalt, who had a gaping lead over his opponents in a recent poll, raised an additional $398,752 during the second reporting period of the year. That puts him over the $2.2 million fundraising mark since the beginning of 2018. But he also spent heavily — to the tune of $623,855 — during this reporting period.

Individuals, from both inside and outside Nevada, made up a good portion of Laxalt’s donor base this period. For instance, members of the Florida-based Macricostas family contributed significant donations: Constantine Macricostas ($10,000), Marie Macricostas ($10,000) and Stephen Macricostas ($10,000). A business entity called Nikea LLC, which lists George Macricostas as an officer, also donated $10,000. George Macricostas is the founder of a data center company called RagingWire.

Laxalt also snagged a $5,000 donation from an entity called Shooting Range Industries LLC and $10,000 each from BR Guest Holdings LLC, ACHC LLC, Flat Willow Farm LLC and Wolf Creek Cattle Co. LLC, among others.

He also received donations from a key Trump administration figure — Joseph Otting, who was appointed comptroller of the currency in November and is charged with overseeing banking regulations. Otting and his wife contributed $20,000 to Laxalt’s campaign.He lives part-time in Las Vegas.

Laxalt spent big on polling, paying a firm called WPAi — which touts its work on Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign — $107,413 in May. Axiom Strategies, a consulting firm that worked with Cruz, is helping Laxalt’s campaign as well.

Laxalt also spent more than $400,000 toward advertising this period. His smallest individual expense was $2.17 at a 99 Cents Only store in Las Vegas.

Lieutenant governor

Republican state Sen. Michael Roberson raised $33,553 over the last few weeks, with $30,000 of it coming from MGM Resorts and its affiliated properties. He’s spent roughly $60,000 on assorted expenses, including about $54,000 on advertising and consultants, $3,000 on travel and $460 on polling.

Roberson helped Gov. Brian Sandoval by leading the legislative charge to raise and extend taxes in 2015, but that effort came back to haunt him in a Republican primary for Congress in 2016, which he lost to Danny Tarkanian.  Stridently anti-tax former Assemblyman Brent Jones is among Roberson’s primary opponents in his bid to be the governor’s deputy.

Jones raised $3,000 over the last few weeks, including $2,500 from Incorp Services, and spent $2,800 on advertising-related expenses.

On the Democratic side, Kate Marshall reported raising $21,246 in the pre-primary period and spending $8,544. Caesars Enterprise Services and the Communication Workers of America both donated $5,000.

Her biggest expenditure was paying her campaign manager.

Attorney General

Republican Wes Duncan collected $105,605 in contributions in the pre-primary period, and spent $241,539. He received $10,000 each from MGM Resorts International, the MGM Grand casino and the Bellagio, as well as a $10,000 from slot machine manufacturer IGT’s former chairman, Charles Mathewson.

He spent about $130,000 on advertising, including tens of thousands of dollars with Republican consulting firm November Inc., as well as with the target marketing firm Strategic Media Services.

His primary opponent, Craig Mueller, reported accepting $5,005 and spending $41,095 in the pre-primary period. Most of the spending is attributed to office expenses, but he also paid for polling and advertising with McShane LLC, the company run by Dan Schwartz campaign manager Rory McShane.

Democrat Aaron Ford raised about $64,000 over the same period — including $10,000 from Southern Glazier’s Wine and Spirits, $10,000 from the Democratic Attorney General Association’s Nevada PAC and $5,000 from the Communication Workers of America District 9 — and spent a little more than $181,000. He spent nearly $91,000 on advertising-related expenses to Mag Dog Mail and Blueprint Interactive and $41,000 on “miscellaneous” expenses to Myers Research in Washington, D.C.

Secretary of State

Republican incumbent Barbara Cegavske said she raised $5,550 in the pre-primary period and spent $11,492. Her biggest contribution was from a company called Incorp Services, while her biggest expense was $6,400 to public relations firm 10e Media.

Democratic Assemblyman Nelson Araujo reported raising $17,940 and spending $6,473 in the period. His biggest donation was $5,000 from the Communication Workers of America, and his biggest expenditure was paying his campaign manager.

State Senate District 8

With nonpartisan incumbent Sen. Patricia Farley not running for re-election, this swingy Las Vegas Senate district is teeming with candidates.

Republican former Assemblywoman Valerie Weber only raised about $6,500, but she has spent more than $67,000 over the past few weeks, largely on printing-related expenses and consultants.

Another Republican, former state Sen. Elizabeth Helgelien, raised a little more than $4,000 over that same period — most of that personal loans — and spent nearly $6,000, largely on advertising expenses. And a third Republican, former wrestler Dan Rodimer, raised about $7,000 over the period and spent nearly $42,000 on polling, advertising and consultants. (Rodimer loaned his campaign more than $157,000 during the last reporting period.)

The Democrat favored to win the primary is former Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, who raised nearly $24,000 over the last few months, including a $5,000 check from AFSCME, and spent about $21,000.

State Senate District 20

Republican Assemblyman Keith Pickard is spending big in his bid to replace state Sen. Michael Roberson in this Henderson district. He raised almost $18,000 this period and spent nearly $40,000, with nearly all of that going to Advanced Micro Targeting for consulting-related expenses.

His main primary opponent, U.S. Army combat veteran Byron Brooks, raised only $4,200 and has spent no money.

Meanwhile, the Democratic-caucus backed candidate, Julie Pazina, brought in nearly $18,000 over the spent and spent a little under $27,000, entirely on advertising. Former Democratic Assemblyman Paul Aizley is also running for the seta, bringing in no money this period and spending $6,800 on advertising of a $10,000 loan he gave himself in the last period.

Assembly District 33

Republican Assemblyman John Ellison, who is facing a Republican primary challenge from Elko Mayor Chris Johnson, raised an additional $48,000 over the last several weeks, including $10,000 from MGM Resorts and $10,000 from High Desert Gold Corp. He also received $3,000 from Barrick, $1,500 from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, $1,000 from Anheuser Busch and $2,000 from the Nevada Realtor PAC.

Ellison spent about $13,000 over that same time period, largely on advertising, special event and staff related expenses.

Johnson only raised $700 this period and spent about $13,000, entirely on advertising.

Assembly District 36

Brothel owner Dennis Hof pumped $100,200 in personal loans into his campaign over the last several weeks and has received another $1,000 in other donations for a rural district that includes Pahrump. He has spent a little less than $74,000 over the same time period, largely on advertising- and special event-related expenses.

Republican Assemblyman James Oscarson, who is defending his seat from Hof, only raised about $15,000 over the same time period, including $1,000 from the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Researchers of America, $2,500 from Valley Electric and $1,000 from Barrick. He spent a little less than $32,000 over the same time period.

Assembly Leadership

Assembly Republican Leader Jim Wheeler brought in $21,000, including $15,000 from the Las Vegas Sands and its affiliated properties, $2,500 from Switch, $1,000 from NV Energy and $2,000 from Barrick. Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson raised $25,540 over the same period, including $5,000 from the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, $3,500 from the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters and $2,000 from AT&T.

Clark County District Attorney

A group with ties to billionaire liberal donor George Soros that’s attempting to boost a challenger to incumbent Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson reported raising more than $1.2 million, all from a single source.

Nevada Law & Justice PAC, which has run ads attacking Wolfson and boosting the candidacy of longtime criminal defense attorney Robert Langford, reported spending more than $414,000 over the nearly three-week reporting period and raising $1.2 million from a group called “Law & Justice PAC.”

The PAC itself is registered to Whitney Tymas, president of the national political nonprofit Justice & Safety PAC and has previously served as treasurer for other groups backed by Soros.

Another Nevada-based PAC running ads in the primary race, “Peoples’ PAC,” reported raising more than $300,000 ahead of the primary, almost all from the San Francisco based “Accountable Justice Action Fund,” a 501(c)(4) nonprofit dedicated to supporting candidates opposed to mass incarceration. It reported spending more than $467,000 over the reporting period, primarily on advertisements.

Because both Langford and Wolfson are Democrats and because no one else filed to run for the seat, the winner of the June 12 primary will automatically assume the office without having to advance to the general election.

Langford reported raising just over $23,000 over the fundraising period, and spent slightly more than $29,000 over the fundraising period. Wolfson reported raising just over $26,000, while spending more than $262,000 over the fundraising period, primarily on advertising.

Another group affiliated with Soros, the Open Society Policy Center, gave $500,000 to a PAC set up to combat a ballot question seeking to ban sanctuary cities in Nevada.

To see what all the statewide and legislative candidates raised between mid-June and now — and how much they’ve now raised in total — check out the table below. Be sure to click between the “Statewide” and “Legislature” tabs at the bottom to see all the races. (This spreadsheet will be continually updated.)

Disclosure: Switch, MGM Resorts, NV Energy, Patricia Farley, Valley Electric, Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.


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