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Members of the Culinary and Bartenders Unions gather at Strike HQ on Friday, June 1, 2018. Tens of thousands of workers could go out on strike in Las Vegas. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

A left-leaning political nonprofit with ties to organized labor has reported spending more than six figures in campaign expenses this month boosting two Nevada Democrats.

A recently created organization called “Working People Rising” has spent more than $223,000 in support of Senate candidate Jacky Rosen and congressional candidate Steven Horsford through the month of September alone, according to data from the Federal Election Commission collected by ProPublica. It also has reported spending nearly $11,000 on flyers and canvassing services opposing Rosen’s opponent, Republican Sen. Dean Heller.

So far, more than $183,000 of the organization’s spending has gone towards canvassing services to the UNITE HERE TIP Campaign Committee, a political arm of the parent union of the state’s powerful Culinary Workers Local 226 union. It’s also spent more than $25,000 on flyers.

Because it is registered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the organization is not required to disclose its donors — but a spokeswoman for the state’s AFL-CIO said it was formed as part of the national union’s planned election spending in Nevada.

It isn’t clear how much the group plans to spend in Nevada, or whether it plans to get involved in other races, but it marks a clear ramp up in organized labor’s spending and influence ahead of the 2018 election.

The reported spending, although relatively small compared to the roughly $18 million spent so far by outside groups on Nevada’s Senate race, stands out given that most of the other expenditures have been for television and digital ads. Rusty McAllister, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, said the union wanted to focus on energizing it's nearly 200,000 members in the state and provide “boots on the ground” support for candidates in the state.

“Certainly one of our best efforts is to go out and make personal contact with our membership,” he said. “That’s how you get them engaged, that’s how you get them involved, that’s how you get them out to vote.”

During the 2016 election cycle, the AFL-CIO made more than 200,000 face-to-face voter interactions, hired 125 full-time staff and recruited several thousand volunteers, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In 2016, the union contributed more than $14.6 million to Super PACs, making contributions to groups that supported Hillary Clinton and then-candidate Catherine Cortez Masto.

Since the start of 2015, the union has reported contributing more than $456,000 directly to Nevada-based candidates and political action committees.

At the state level, a group funded by the Democratic Governors Association and the federal American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union has been running ads in the state’s open governor’s race. It has raised and spent nearly $1.1 million as of June 8, the last required state campaign finance reporting deadline.

Disclosure: The Culinary Union and Nevada State AFL-CIO have donated to The Indy. You can view a full list of our donors here.

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