IndyBlog

After Jackson withdrawal, Heller optimistic on Wilkie nomination to be VA secretary

Humberto Sanchez
May 22nd, 2018 - 4:15pm

Sen. Dean Heller indicated initial support for President Donald Trump’s choice to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, but added that he’s waiting for Wilkie to go through the nomination process before making a final decision on how he votes.

“I have not had a chance to interview Wilkie at this point, but I look forward to it,” Heller, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said Tuesday. “At this point…I have no reason to oppose, but he’s going to go through the same process as everybody else.”

The previous VA nominee, Ronny Jackson, who had been the president’s physician, withdrew from consideration last month following allegations of improper behavior at the White House medical unit. The allegations against Jackson included crashing a government vehicle while drunk after a Secret Service going away party, according to a list of transgressions circulated by the Democratic staff of the veterans panel. Jackson denied he had wrecked a vehicle.

Heller spoke more freely of Wilkie’s nomination than he had of Jackson’s. In early April he would not divulge his position on Jackson when asked by the Reno Gazette Journal. Later that month, he would not tell the Las Vegas Review Journal whether he would vote for Jackson as a member of the veterans committee.

Jackson’s nomination had put the Nevada Republican in a difficult spot. Heller had to choose whether to back Trump’s pick over the complaints from veterans service groups, who had raised concerns about his lack of management experience and questioned whether he had the ability to run one of the most complicated bureaucracies in the federal government.

It seemed like a no-win situation for Heller, who faces a difficult re-election that is expected to be decided by the smallest of margins. If he had sided with Trump, Heller would have run the risk of angering veterans groups in a state where there are more than 200,000 veterans, based on VA figures, including more than 100,000 enrolled in the VA health-care system. More than 40,000 receive disability compensation, and more than 6,000 receive education benefits under the G.I. bill. More than 40 percent of the state’s veterans are 65 or older, more than 30 percent of whom served in Vietnam, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Siding with the veterans groups would have run the risk of irritating Trump, who is known to attack perceived critics on Twitter, something Heller could not afford as he looks for ways to keep Republican base voters engaged and enthusiastic about his candidacy. Heller has been working to stay in Trump’s good graces, last week lavishing praise on him at a closed-door GOP meeting, according to Republican senators in the meeting.

Heller, who spoke Tuesday after a press conference on bipartisan veterans legislation the Senate is expected to approve this week, echoed the comments of Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana and the ranking member of the veterans panel.

“Right now, I certainly don’t have anything that would cause me not to support him,” Tester said. “He’s a solid guy, but we’re going to put him through the process just like we do anybody who would be nominated for this position.”

Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson said he intends to have a hearing on Wilkie after the Memorial Day recess.

Veterans service organizations have welcomed Trump’s plans to nominate Wilkie, who is acting secretary after Trump fired former VA Secretary David Shulkin in March.

“We were happy to see that President Trump has indicated that he would fill the position,” said Joe Plenzler, director of media relations of the American Legion. “We’ve been working with [Wilkie] since he became acting director.”

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) praised Wilkie’s background, which includes working during the George W. Bush Administration as assistant secretary of defense, special assistant to the president for national security affairs and a senior director of the National Security Council under Dr. Condoleezza Rice. He’s also a reserve officer in the United States Air Force Reserve assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff.

“Since March, the acting secretary has taken it upon himself to work closely with the VSO community to better understand the needs facing our nation’s heroes,” DAV said in a release. “With years of leadership experience in the Department of Defense, Mr. Wilkie has a deep understanding of navigating federal government policies.”

INDY FAST FACTS Dean Heller Job: U.S. Senator Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: May 10, 1960 Education: University of Southern California (B.A.) Other public offices held: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada's 2nd Congressional District (2007-2011) Nevada Secretary of State (1995-2007) State Assemblyman (1990-1994) Total donations: $21,463,574 (2005-2018) Top donors: Station Casinos $115,200 Votesane PAC $92,000 MGM Resorts International $74,000 Blackstone Group $48,400 Capital Group $38,800 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics

Heller criticizes Rosen for vote on sage grouse amid congressional maneuvers that could restrict land use

Daniel Rothberg
May 22nd, 2018 - 1:24pm

Some congressional members have long wanted a rider on the defense spending bill to limit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ability to list as endangered the greater sage grouse, a flamboyant bird that roams much of Nevada. Since listing the bird would place more restrictions on land use, the debate over whether to list the bird has come to symbolize a larger dispute between conservationists and industry over managing federal lands.

In years past, Sen. John McCain, as chair of the Armed Services Committee, had blocked the riders from advancing past the House of Representatives, pointing out that they had little to do with the military. But in McCain’s absence this year, some believe the riders could succeed, reported E&E News, a trade publication that covers the politics of natural resource issues.

And the issue is spilling into the Nevada Senate race.

On Monday, a campaign spokesman for Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, issued a statement that criticized his Democratic opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen, for opposing the rider. It accused her of “caving to the desires of California environmentalists like Nancy Pelosi and Tom Steyer.”

“Her careless vote shows she’s more concerned with pleasing her tree-hugging donors who want to take away Nevadans’ access to their public lands rather than helping hardworking rural Nevadans make ends meet,” a campaign spokesman, Keith Schipper, said in a press release.

The rider prohibits the Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the sage grouse as an endangered species for at least 10 years. For years, politicians across the Intermountain West have argued a listing would severely restrain industry in rural areas that overlap with sage grouse habitat.

During the Obama administration, a bipartisan group of Western governors, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service to avoid a listing. The deal struck was that the Fish and Wildlife Service would defer a listing until at least 2020 if the states developed detailed conservation plans. Yet the plans and subsequent actions by the Trump administration to make them less ironclad have triggered numerous lawsuits from both state officials and conservationists, adding uncertainty to whether the sage grouse will be listed in the future.

Through the rider, Congress would ensure that the bird could not be listed for the next decade. According to a letter E&E News posted, Democrats on the House Armed services Committee have argued that a listing decision should be made through a science-based approach, not by Congress.

Despite Rosen’s vote against the rider to prohibit a sage grouse listing for 10 years, it passed and was included in the defense spending bill, which she later voted for in committee. Stewart Boss, a spokesman for Rosen’s campaign, said that she supported the 2015 sage grouse plans.

“These ongoing conservation efforts to protect the sage grouse’s habitat have already successfully kept them off the endangered species list,” Boss said in a statement. “Congresswoman Rosen supports this flexible approach for sage grouse conservation in Nevada, and she believes interference at the federal level into a process that is working – whether it’s the Republican Congress or the Trump Administration – is unhelpful and unnecessary.”

The defense bill could also include language giving the Pentagon more permanent control over land at the Fallon Naval Air Station and the Nellis Test and Training Range. Both test ranges have plans to expand and are in the process of conducting environmental analyses. Under the current rules, land expansions must be revisited after a certain period of time, around 20 years.

If passed, a provision in the bill would make the expansions indefinite. Jose Witt, the Southern Nevada director for Friends of Nevada Wilderness, said the group is watching the bill closely.

“It’s definitely something we’re concerned about,” Witt said.

Witt said, in the past, the organization would have relied on McCain or Sen. Harry Reid to kill such a provision. But he said he’s confident that indefinite land withdrawals do not have strong Senate support. He said that he expects hunters, in addition to conservationists, to oppose it.

INDY FAST FACTS Jacky Rosen Job: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District Party: Democrat In current office: 2017-present Birthdate: August 2, 1957 Education: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (B.A.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $3,220,875 (2017-2018) Top donors: EMILY's List $178,768 League of Conservation Voters $80,270 DE Shaw & Co $66,800 Omni New York $32,400 Varian Medical Systems $23,100 Last Report: 12/31/17 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics
INDY FAST FACTS Dean Heller Job: U.S. Senator Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: May 10, 1960 Education: University of Southern California (B.A.) Other public offices held: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada's 2nd Congressional District (2007-2011) Nevada Secretary of State (1995-2007) State Assemblyman (1990-1994) Total donations: $21,463,574 (2005-2018) Top donors: Station Casinos $115,200 Votesane PAC $92,000 MGM Resorts International $74,000 Blackstone Group $48,400 Capital Group $38,800 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics
INDY FAST FACTS Brian Sandoval Job: Nevada Governor Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: August 5, 1963 Education: University of Nevada, Reno (B.A.) Ohio State University (J.D.) Other public offices held: U.S. District Court Judge (2005-2009) Nevada State Attorney General (2003-2005) Nevada Gaming Commission Chair (1999-2001) Nevada Gaming Commission Member (1998-2001) State Assemblyman, District 25 (1994-1998) Total donations: $4,984,248 (1/07/11 - 7/5/17) Top donors: Caesars Entertainment $245,000 Station Casinos $158,072 MGM Resorts International $160,000 Wynn Resorts $80,000 Marnell Properties LLC $70,000

Group funded by billionaire donor George Soros spends $500,000 backing progressive organizations in Nevada

Riley Snyder
May 22nd, 2018 - 11:09am

A political action committee tied to progressive groups in Nevada has received a half million dollar contribution from a group funded by Hungarian billionaire and progressive donor George Soros.

The “Light of Freedom PAC,” which was registered with the secretary of state in December 2017 and is affiliated with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) Action Fund, received a $500,000 contribution from the Open Society Policy Center, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit closely associated with Soros.

The PAC released the contribution on Tuesday as part of the required campaign finance report deadline, which covers the first five months of 2018. According to its listed purpose, the PAC was formed to oppose a “so-called anti-sanctuary city ballot initiative.”

Last week, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling that will likely prevent a proposed ballot initiative banning sanctuary cities in the state from making it on the 2018 ballot because of issues with its description.

The group reported no other contributions over the fundraising period, but made a $175,000 transfer to PLAN Action Fund in March and a $150,000 transfer to “The Advocacy Fund/Make It Work Nevada” in April.

Soros, a successful hedge fund manager and prolific donor to progressive causes and Democratic candidates nationwide, has given more than $32 billion to Open Society since 1984. He has contributed to several organizations and causes focused in Nevada in the past, including an effort to end judicial elections in Nevada, but the $500,000 contribution is the only reported state-specific spending made by Open Society.

Spearman launches her first digital advertisement in bid for 4th Congressional District

Jackie Valley
May 22nd, 2018 - 8:10am

Democratic state Sen. Pat Spearman took her congressional campaign to online audiences Tuesday, releasing her first digital advertisement that highlights her lifelong fight for equality.

The 30-second spot traces Spearman’s journey overcoming discrimination as an African-American child when her school integrated, harassment from a superior who stalked her in the military and rejection from loved ones when she came out as a gay woman.

“She’s faced every type of discrimination and harassment,” the narrator says. “That’s why she has fought for equality her whole life. To take on Trump and the bigotry he’s released, send Pat Spearman to Congress.”

The ad debuts three weeks before the June 12 primary election, where she’ll face off against former Rep. Steven Horsford, progressive health-care advocate Amy Vilela, high school principal John Anzalone and Nevada System of Higher Education Regent Allison Stephens to represent the 4th Congressional District. That district covers a slice of North Las Vegas as well as the southern part of Lyon County and all of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties.

Spearman retired from the U.S. Army after serving 29 years. She worked as a pastor before being elected to the state Senate.

Earlier this month, a political action committee tied to the Culinary Union launched two television commercials backing Horsford in the crowded primary race. Spearman’s ad also comes the same day former Vice President Joe Biden announced his endorsement of Horsford.

Spearman’s campaign manager didn’t immediately know the cost of the ad buy but said the team hopes to put it on television at some point, too.

Disclosure: The Culinary Union has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden endorses Steven Horsford for Nevada's 4th Congressional District

Michelle Rindels
May 22nd, 2018 - 7:00am

Former Vice President Joe Biden has endorsed Steven Horsford in the Democratic primary for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District.

“Steven Horsford is a proven champion for Nevada’s working families,” Biden said in a statement issued Tuesday. “He has the personal experience to understand the challenges our communities face and the right skills to know how to get things done.”

Horsford, who previously represented the district for one term, is far ahead in fundraising in a large field of candidates that includes state Sen. Pat Spearman, high school principal John Anzalone, health-care activist Amy Vilela and Regent Allison Stephens.

This cycle, Biden has also endorsed Democrat Susie Lee for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District and Democrat Jacky Rosen for Senate.

Disclosure: Susie Lee has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
INDY FAST FACTS Jacky Rosen Job: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District Party: Democrat In current office: 2017-present Birthdate: August 2, 1957 Education: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (B.A.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $3,220,875 (2017-2018) Top donors: EMILY's List $178,768 League of Conservation Voters $80,270 DE Shaw & Co $66,800 Omni New York $32,400 Varian Medical Systems $23,100 Last Report: 12/31/17 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics

Susie Lee to begin airing first television ad in her congressional district bid

Megan Messerly
May 21st, 2018 - 2:11pm

Democrat Susie Lee is going up on television with her first ad in her bid to represent Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District.

The 30-second biographical spot, which will begin airing tomorrow on both broadcast and cable in Las Vegas, highlights Lee’s background as an education advocate. Lee is the former president of the nonprofit Communities in Schools of Nevada, the state arm of the national organization focused on preventing school dropouts. The ad, which is backed by a $110,000 buy for the first week, will air leading up to the June 12 primary election.

“I’m passionate about education and solving problems,” Lee says in the ad.

In the ad, Lee says that Communities in Schools’ dropout prevention program serves more than 60,000 students and has a graduation rate of about 87 percent. Lee continues to serve on the organization’s board.

“The same approach Susie Lee will bring to Congress. Finding local solutions. Getting real results. That’s Susie Lee,” the narrator of the ad says.

Lee, who has more than $1 million saved in the bank, has a handful of Democratic primary challengers, though none of them have come close to matching her fundraising totals, meaning she will likely coast easily to victory in the June primary. Even still, the ad is the earliest buy of the 2018 cycle of any candidate in the swingy congressional district, which stretches from Summerlin to the southernmost tip of the state and has a relatively even number of registered Republican and Democratic voters.

On the other side of the aisle, businessman Danny Tarkanian, state Sen. Scott Hammond, former television reporter Michelle Mortensen and former Clark County Republican Party Chairman David McKeon will vie for the Republican nomination on June 12.

Disclosure: Susie Lee has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.

INDY FAST FACTS Danny Tarkanian Job: Businessman Party: Republican In current office: None Birthdate: Dec. 18, 1961 Education: University of Nevada, Las Vegas (B.A.) University of San Diego (J.D.) Other public offices held: None Total Donations: $3,443,619 (8/18/04-12/31/17) Top Donors: Danny Tarkanian $528,440 Stations Casino $74,550 Las Vegas Sands Corp $38,900 Domain.com $26,600 Maloof family $18,000
INDY FAST FACTS Michelle Mortensen Job: Former television reporter Party: Republican In current office: None Birthdate: February 8, 1977 Other public offices held: None Total donations: $81,083 (10/1/17-12/31/17) Top donors: Wynn Resorts $10,800 ICL Systems $10,500 MGM Resorts $10,000 A Wilsey Properties $5,400 Broidy Capital $5,400 Last report: 12/31/17 Source: Center for Responsive Politics
INDY FAST FACTS Scott Hammond Job: State senator, District 18 Party: Republican In current office: 2012-present Birthdate:  December 20, 1966 Education: University of Nevada, Las Vegas (B.A., M.A.) Other public offices held: Assemblyman, District 13 (2010-2012) Total donations: $804,734 (2011-2017) Top donors: Las Vegas Sands $30,000 MGM Resorts International $20,000 New Nevada PAC $15,000 Boyd Gaming $14,000 Nevada Subcontractors Assn PAC $12,500 Station Casinos $12,500

Group backing energy choice ballot question reserves $10 million in television ads

Riley Snyder
May 21st, 2018 - 11:57am

The expensive political fight over a major energy-related ballot question is getting another eight-figure jolt of advertising dollars.

Nevadans for Energy Freedom, the group backing the Energy Choice Initiative, is reserving $10 million in television advertising for the ballot question between Labor Day and Election Day in November. The ballot question, which is largely being bankrolled by the Las Vegas Sands and Switch, would require Nevada to drop its current electric monopoly model and switch to a competitive market where multiple companies could buy and sell electricity by 2023.

The news comes nearly a month after the group opposing the ballot question — Coalition to Defeat Question 3 — announced it would reserve $12 million in television ads ahead of the 2018 general election. The group, which is backed by NV Energy, has previously promised to spend up to $30 million to defeat the ballot measure.

“Having the right to simply choose your energy provider is too important to Nevada than to let NV Energy try to fool voters with a $30 million scare tactic campaign using ratepayer money,” spokesman Bradley Mayer said in a statement. “Our coalition of almost 1,000 small businesses, renewable energy companies and the 72 percent of voters who support our measure is committed to ensuring Nevadans have the facts about lower rates, more renewables and more jobs that will come with energy choice.”

A poll by The Nevada Independent conducted in April found voters supported the measure on a 54 to 16 percent split, with 30 percent undecided. The measure, which needs to pass in two successive elections to become part of the state constitution, was approved on a massive 72 to 28 percent vote in 2016.

Disclosure: NV Energy and Switch have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.

Question 3 Energy Choice Initiative Description Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity? Status Becomes part of Constitution if approved by voters in 2018 Type Initiated constitutional amendment Supporters  Las Vegas Sands, Switch, Gov. Brian Sandoval, former Sen. Harry Reid Opponents NV Energy, Controller Ron Knecht, IBEW 1245, Culinary Local 226

Question 3 Energy Choice Initiative Description Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity? Status Becomes part of Constitution if approved by voters in 2018 Type Initiated constitutional amendment Supporters  Las Vegas Sands, Switch, Gov. Brian Sandoval, former Sen. Harry Reid Opponents NV Energy, Controller Ron Knecht, IBEW 1245, Culinary Local 226

Warren to speak at Nevada Democratic Party convention in Reno in June

Megan Messerly
May 18th, 2018 - 7:30am

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will deliver the keynote address at the Nevada State Democratic Party Convention in Reno at the end of June.

The Massachusetts senator will address Nevada Democrats the morning of June 23 at the Grand Sierra Resort. She is then expected to attend a campaign event with Rep. Jacky Rosen later that morning before flying to Las Vegas in the afternoon to join U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto at an event benefiting the state party.

It’s not the first time Warren has traveled to Nevada to rally the Democratic troops. She hosted a rally for former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Cortez Masto at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas in 2016 and later stumped in Reno and Carson City for the two women.

It has been widely speculated that Warren’s aspirations include a run for the White House in 2020, although she has attempted to tamp down such suggestions. She told NBC’s Chuck Todd in March that she is not running for president but wouldn’t commit to serving out all six years of her term if she is re-elected in 2018.

“I am in this fight to retain my Senate seat in 2018. That’s where I’m focused,” Warren told Todd. “That’s where I’m going to stay focused. I’m not running for president.”

Disclosure: Grand Sierra Resort has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
INDY FAST FACTS Jacky Rosen Job: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District Party: Democrat In current office: 2017-present Birthdate: August 2, 1957 Education: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (B.A.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $3,220,875 (2017-2018) Top donors: EMILY's List $178,768 League of Conservation Voters $80,270 DE Shaw & Co $66,800 Omni New York $32,400 Varian Medical Systems $23,100 Last Report: 12/31/17 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics
INDY FAST FACTS Catherine Cortez Masto Job: U.S. Senator Party: Democrat In current office: 2017-present Birthdate: March 29, 1964 Education: University of Nevada, Reno (B.A.) Gonzaga University (J.D.) Other public offices held: Nevada State Attorney General (2007-2015) Total donations: $20,597,201 (2011-2018) Top donors: EMILY's List $565,679 League of Conservation Voters $401,508 J Street $185,558 University of California $76,542 University of Nevada $56,579 Last Report: 12/31/2017 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics

EMILY's List begins sending political mail for Giunchigliani ahead of June primary

Riley Snyder
May 16th, 2018 - 1:41pm

A national pro-choice political group is distributing mail pieces supporting the candidacy of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Giunchigliani.

Copies of at least two mail pieces sent by an organization affiliated to EMILY’s List and obtained by The Nevada Independent show the national group taking steps to bolster Giunchigliani’s candidacy with less than a month before the primary election.

The mail pieces were sent by a PAC called “Women Vote!,” which is registered to an employee of EMILY’s List and last updated its registration with the secretary of state earlier this month. A spokeswoman for EMILY’s List said the two were part of a 10-piece mail program supporting Giunchiglinai.

The two mail pieces tout the Clark County commissioner’s “progressive” bonafides, and note her support for progressive positions such as raising the state’s minimum wage and making birth control “more accessible.”

EMILY’s List endorsed Giunchigliani in January 2018, with organization President Stephanie Schriock calling her a “fierce leader and strong champion for Nevada women and families.” Schriock is also scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Giunchiglinai on May 19.

Giunchigliani’s campaign has also been bolstered by help from another outside group — the Nevada State Education Association, which launched a 7-figure ad buy earlier in May supporting her and attacking primary opponent Steve Sisolak.

Disclosure: NSEA, Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.

INDY FAST FACTS Steve Sisolak Job: Clark County commission chairman Party: Democrat In current office: 2009-present Commission chairman since 2013 Birthdate: December 26, 1953 Education: University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee (B.S.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.B.A.) Other public offices held: Nevada System of Higher Education Regent (1999-2009) Total donations: $7,869,927 (1/12/11-12/31/17) Top donors: MGM Resorts International $174,359 Station Casinos/Zuffa: $90,000 Las Vegas Sands $75,000 Fidelity National $61,600 Marnell Companies LLC $55,000
INDY FAST FACTS Chris Giunchigliani Job: Clark County Commissioner Party: Democrat In current office: 2007-present Birthdate: November 27, 1954 Education: Avila College (B.A.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.A.) Other public offices held: State Assemblywoman, District 9 (1991-2006) Total donations: $1,920,870 (5/08/13-12/31/17) Top donors: Giunchigliani (Chris, Jeanne, JM, Larry, Myrna, Ellen): $65,000 MGM Resorts International $43,165 Caesars Entertainment $35,000 Buck and Aurora Wong $30,000 South Point Hotel & Casino/F&M Advertising $30,000

Liberal group launches ad in Las Vegas market targeting the GOP tax law

Humberto Sanchez
May 16th, 2018 - 2:30am

A new political ad critical of the GOP-passed tax law will run in Las Vegas through the end of the month in an attempt to pound Republicans seeking election in Nevada.

“The tax law that was rammed through Congress last year overwhelmingly benefits millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations at the expense of working people,” Nicole Gill, executive director of Tax March, the group behind the ad, said in a release. “Tax breaks for the ultra-rich and biggest corporations are a disaster for the middle class. The last thing working Nevadans need is a tax plan that ultimately raises their taxes and threatens massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security.”

Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is focused on electing Republicans to the House, said the law has helped Nevadans and that Democrats want to raise taxes.

“Nevada families are experiencing lower utility rates, Nevada workers are enjoying bonuses and pay raises, and Democrats want to rip it all away,” Pandol said. “What these slick, out-of-touch attack ads don’t say: Democrats are obsessed with growing government and hiking taxes to pay for it – all at the expense of the little guy.” 

Tax March, a left-leaning group focused on the Republican tax law passed in December.

The group spent $500,000 on the ad buy, which includes digital, but will mostly run on broadcast and cable television in the Las Vegas market.

The ad comes as Democrats have almost tripled their spending in Nevada compared to Republicans. Democrats have spent $2.0 million, while the GOP has spent $724,000 during the 2018 election cycle through Monday, according to NBC News.

In the ad, which is titled “Rigged,” two children play an arcade claw-machine game that is full of cash. The children manage to grab one bill, but it falls out of the claw as they dejectedly look on. Then a man dressed in a suit plays the machine and successfully grabs a wad of bills with which he fills a bag.

While quotes from editorials and news stories that are critical of the bill flash on the screen, the voiceover script includes phrases such as “83 percent of the benefits go to the richest 1 percent,” and that the bill “adds $1.9 trillion to our national debt, which may force cuts to Medicare and Social Security.”

The group also cited an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last month that showed only 27 percent of Americans call the law a good idea. That was down from 30 percent in January.

Tax March is forbidden from working with any political campaigns or particular candidate, according to IRS rules, but the ads are meant to punish GOP candidates in the state, including Sen. Dean Heller.

Heller, who proudly touts his support for the tax law when campaigning, is in a difficult race to hold on to his seat, as he looks to keep Republican voters excited about his re-election, while not turning off independent and moderate voters who he needs to win the general election.

A recent poll commissioned by The Nevada Independent showed Heller, who is the only Republican running for re-election from a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, neck and neck with his likely Democratic opponent Rep. Jacky Rosen.

“Jacky Rosen and her liberal allies are dead set on distracting Nevada voters from the reality that they are seeing bigger paychecks, new job opportunities and a booming economy thanks to the GOP tax cuts she wants to repeal,” said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Nevadans know radical politicians like Jacky Rosen want to take away the extra cash in their pockets and that’s one of the many reasons why she doesn’t have a shot at being elected to the U.S. Senate.”

After the tax measure was signed into law, many companies announced that they would provide one-time benefits, including bonuses, to their workers. For example, Best Buy said it would pay one-time bonuses of $1,000 to full-time workers and $500 to part-time employees. The store has 1,127 workers in Nevada and 10 stores across the state.

David Bergstein, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, said that Heller’s vote for the tax law would come back to haunt him.

“Senator Heller voted to raise taxes on hardworking families and jeopardize Medicare and Social Security so he could give more handouts to the rich and the powerful special interests he cares about – it’s a perfect example of what voters hate about Heller’s self-serving politics,” Bergstein said.

In House races, the ad may damage Republican candidates Danny Tarkanian, who is running for the 3rd Congressional District and Cresent Hardy, who is running for the 4th Congressional District. Their likely Democratic opponents include Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, respectively.

Drew Godinich, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is focused on electing Democrats to the House, said that the voters will respond to the message in the ad.

“Washington Republicans passed a tax scam that slashes taxes for the wealthy and large corporations, explodes the deficit, and now they want to pay for it by cutting Medicare and Social Security,” Godinich said. “Nevadans will remember this in November.”

Disclosure: Susie Lee has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
INDY FAST FACTS Danny Tarkanian Job: Businessman Party: Republican In current office: None Birthdate: Dec. 18, 1961 Education: University of Nevada, Las Vegas (B.A.) University of San Diego (J.D.) Other public offices held: None Total Donations: $3,443,619 (8/18/04-12/31/17) Top Donors: Danny Tarkanian $528,440 Stations Casino $74,550 Las Vegas Sands Corp $38,900 Domain.com $26,600 Maloof family $18,000
INDY FAST FACTS Jacky Rosen Job: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District Party: Democrat In current office: 2017-present Birthdate: August 2, 1957 Education: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (B.A.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $3,220,875 (2017-2018) Top donors: EMILY's List $178,768 League of Conservation Voters $80,270 DE Shaw & Co $66,800 Omni New York $32,400 Varian Medical Systems $23,100 Last Report: 12/31/17 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics
INDY FAST FACTS Dean Heller Job: U.S. Senator Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: May 10, 1960 Education: University of Southern California (B.A.) Other public offices held: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada's 2nd Congressional District (2007-2011) Nevada Secretary of State (1995-2007) State Assemblyman (1990-1994) Total donations: $21,463,574 (2005-2018) Top donors: Station Casinos $115,200 Votesane PAC $92,000 MGM Resorts International $74,000 Blackstone Group $48,400 Capital Group $38,800 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics

Heller reports modest income, millions in assets on 2017 finance report

Riley Snyder
May 16th, 2018 - 2:25am

Compared to some of his contemporaries in the U.S. Senate, Republican Sen. Dean Heller brought in a relatively modest salary over the course of 2017.

According to a U.S. Senate financial disclosure filed on Tuesday, Heller and his wife, Lynne, reported an income somewhere between $163,000 and $358,000 over the previous calendar year, primarily from municipal bonds proceeds held by his wife.

The Nevada Independent calculated the totals using financial disclosure statements for members of Congress, which are not reported as exact figures but as a range. The totaled income figures supplement Heller’s $174,000 annual salary as a U.S. Senator.

In total, the Heller family’s reported assets are worth between $3.9 million and $11.3 million. In addition to the municipal bond income, the Hellers reported rent income from two homes in Palos Verdes Estates, California, and the Heller Hay Farm in rural Smith Valley.

The senator reported just over $80,000 in income from the hay farm through sales and rent received, but whose campaign has previously said never turned a profit while farming the 120-acre property.

Heller’s wife, Lynne, also reported purchasing six municipal bond accounts from local governments in California in 2017, worth between $265,000 and $550,000. The couple reported having two mortgages for properties in Washoe Valley, worth between $750,000 and $1.5 million.

The Hellers did not report receiving any gifts, buying or selling assets worth more than $1,000 or taking any reportable trips in 2017.

INDY FAST FACTS Dean Heller Job: U.S. Senator Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: May 10, 1960 Education: University of Southern California (B.A.) Other public offices held: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada's 2nd Congressional District (2007-2011) Nevada Secretary of State (1995-2007) State Assemblyman (1990-1994) Total donations: $21,463,574 (2005-2018) Top donors: Station Casinos $115,200 Votesane PAC $92,000 MGM Resorts International $74,000 Blackstone Group $48,400 Capital Group $38,800 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics

Cadish launches first ads in race for open state Supreme Court seat

Riley Snyder
May 15th, 2018 - 10:16am

District Court Judge Elissa Cadish is going up with the first television ad of any candidate running for an open spot on the state’s Supreme Court.

Cadish’s campaign placed the television ad reservations in Las Vegas and Reno earlier this week. The ads largely follow the same script, but the Las Vegas version features Henderson Mayor Debra March and former Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury, while the Reno ad features former Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley and Margo Piscevich, the first female president of the Nevada State Bar.

Both ads tout Cadish as “fair and impartial,” and “respected by her peers,” and includes the judge herself promising to rule fairly if elected to the state’s highest court.

“My rulings will always be based on the facts, the law and what is just,” she says, facing the camera.

Cadish, a Democrat, was appointed as a District Court judge in 2007, and won her 2014 re-election unopposed. She was nominated by President Barack Obama for a seat on the federal bench in 2012, but her nomination was blocked by Republican Sen. Dean Heller over her position on firearms, and she withdrew after a year-long impasse.

She’s facing off against Leon Aberasturi, Alan Lefebvre, John Rutledge and Appeals Court Justice Jerome Tao to fill the seat being vacated by Justice Michael Cherry.

Nevada State Supreme Court justices are nonpartisan, statewide races, and elected justices serve six-year terms with no term limits.

Disclosure: Debra March and Bruce Woodbury have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.


INDY FAST FACTS Dean Heller Job: U.S. Senator Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: May 10, 1960 Education: University of Southern California (B.A.) Other public offices held: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada's 2nd Congressional District (2007-2011) Nevada Secretary of State (1995-2007) State Assemblyman (1990-1994) Total donations: $21,463,574 (2005-2018) Top donors: Station Casinos $115,200 Votesane PAC $92,000 MGM Resorts International $74,000 Blackstone Group $48,400 Capital Group $38,800 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics

Titus lends support for Sisolak in his latest television ad

Jackie Valley
May 15th, 2018 - 9:49am

Gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak has released his fourth television advertisement — this one featuring longtime Democratic Rep. Dina Titus.

Titus narrates the 30-second spot as photos of Sisolak flash across the screen. The congresswoman describes him as a progressive Democrat despite attacks waged by his opponents suggesting the contrary.

Their friendship extends three decades and includes Sisolak’s first run for office, she said. (He unsuccessfully ran twice for the state Senate while Titus was there.) Titus announced her endorsement of Sisolak, who chairs the Clark County Commission, in November.

“Nevada needs someone who will stand up to Trump, take on the NRA and tell the truth,” Titus says in the ad. “That’s why this progressive is for making Steve our next governor.”

The ad begins airing Tuesday in the Las Vegas and Reno markets. It’s part of a six-figure ad buy.

Sisolak faces off against his commission colleague, Chris Giunchigliani, in the primary election on June 12.

Disclosure: Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
INDY FAST FACTS Steve Sisolak Job: Clark County commission chairman Party: Democrat In current office: 2009-present Commission chairman since 2013 Birthdate: December 26, 1953 Education: University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee (B.S.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.B.A.) Other public offices held: Nevada System of Higher Education Regent (1999-2009) Total donations: $7,869,927 (1/12/11-12/31/17) Top donors: MGM Resorts International $174,359 Station Casinos/Zuffa: $90,000 Las Vegas Sands $75,000 Fidelity National $61,600 Marnell Companies LLC $55,000
INDY FAST FACTS Dina Titus Job: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada’s 1st Congressional District Party: Democrat In current office: 2013-present Birthdate: May 23, 1950 Education: College of William and Mary (B.A.) University of Georgia (M.A.) Florida State University, Tallahassee (Ph.D.) Other public offices held: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District (2009-2010) State Senator, District 7 (1989-2008) Total donations: $8,029,822 (2007-2018) Top donors:  MGM Resorts International $131,060 University of Nevada $60,269 Rocky Research $58,300 Carpenters & Joiners Union $57,500 Barrick Gold $52,500 Last Report: 12/31/17 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics
INDY FAST FACTS Chris Giunchigliani Job: Clark County Commissioner Party: Democrat In current office: 2007-present Birthdate: November 27, 1954 Education: Avila College (B.A.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.A.) Other public offices held: State Assemblywoman, District 9 (1991-2006) Total donations: $1,920,870 (5/08/13-12/31/17) Top donors: Giunchigliani (Chris, Jeanne, JM, Larry, Myrna, Ellen): $65,000 MGM Resorts International $43,165 Caesars Entertainment $35,000 Buck and Aurora Wong $30,000 South Point Hotel & Casino/F&M Advertising $30,000

Pro-choice women's group EMILY's List endorses Nevada Legislature candidates in swing seats

Michelle Rindels
May 15th, 2018 - 6:00am

The pro-choice women’s political advocacy group EMILY’s List is stepping into Nevada legislative races, endorsing nine female candidates who face Democratic primaries.

The group, whose name is an acronym for Early Money Is Like Yeast, announced its selections on Tuesday. It typically offers its chosen candidates training on grassroots organizing, communications and fundraising.  

“Pro-choice Democratic women in the Nevada state legislature have been at the forefront of sweeping progress for women and families, including expanded access to reproductive health care coverage and rights for working parents,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement. “That progress has been under attack from Republicans who have tried, and failed, to push their agenda. These nine women are ready to take their seats in both chambers and vote to support the women and families of Nevada.”

The candidates include:

  • Assembly District 37 – Shea Backus, who faces two other Democrats in the primary for the Las Vegas-area seat held by Republican Jim Marchant. The district is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
  • Senate District 10 – Sen. Yvanna Cancela, an incumbent who has one Democratic primary opponent.
  • Assembly District 29 – Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen, an incumbent who has one Democratic primary opponent in her Henderson-area swing district. Republican former Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus is also making a bid to reclaim his old seat.
  • Assembly District 24 – Deonne Contine, the former head of the Nevada Department of Taxation who has three Democratic primary opponents in her Reno-area seat.
  • Senate District 8 – Marilyn Dondero Loop, a former assemblywoman who has one Democratic primary opponent. Her Las Vegas district, held by outgoing nonpartisan Sen. Patricia Farley, is considered a swing seat.
  • Assembly District 35 – Michelle Gorelow, who has one primary opponent in her bid for a southwestern Las Vegas district held by outgoing Democratic Assemblyman Justin Watkins. The district leans Democratic.
  • Assembly District 4 – Connie Munk, who has one primary opponent in her bid for a northwestern Las Vegas district held by Republican Richard McArthur. The district is considered a swing seat.
  • Senate District 20 – Julie Pazina, who faces former Assemblyman Paul Aizley in the Democratic primary. The swing seat is held by outgoing Republican Sen. Michael Roberson.
  • Senate District 9 – Melanie Scheible, who has three Democratic primary opponents in an open seat formerly held by Republican Becky Harris. The district is considered a swing seat.

 

INDY FAST FACTS Michael Roberson Job: State senate minority leader Party: Republican In current office: 2010-present Senate Republican leader since 2015 Birthdate: June 20, 1970 Education: University of Kansas (B.S.) University of Kansas School of Law (J.D.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $1,692,296 (5/28/10-12/29/17) Top donors: Las Vegas Sands $55,000 Station Casinos/Zuffa $47,500 Boyd Gaming $35,000 MGM Resorts International $25,000 Wynn Resorts $22,000

BLM, Nye County Sheriff to investigate shooting of 13 wild burros

Daniel Rothberg
May 15th, 2018 - 2:35am

After 13 wild burros were shot to death last week near Beatty, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Land Management have launched an investigation. More than half of all U.S. wild horses and burros graze in rural Nevada, and they are protected under federal law.

Law enforcement received a report of three wild burros killed by gunshots May 5, according to a press release from the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency that oversees wild horses. Since then, the BLM has found 10 additional wild burro carcasses with similar wounds.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act requires the BLM to protect and manage horses across the West. It also outlaws acts of violence toward horses, making them punishable for up to a year in prison or steep fines. But the policy has been the subject of controversy.

For decades, policies around wild horses and burros have created tensions across the West, as federal land managers argue that the range is not big enough to support the animals. Wild horse advocates argue agencies like the BLM are making those arguments because they are captured by ranching interests. At the same time, many ranchers and farmers argue that the BLM is not doing enough to manage horses they see as destructive to their ranges.

In February, the BLM launched a similar investigation into the shooting of five wild horses in Wyoming. In 2016, the BLM offered a $10,000 reward to investigate a wild horse shooting in Carson City at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, which has a ranch to train horses.

New ad pans Giunchigliani for laughing at meeting while public commenter speaks

Michelle Rindels
May 14th, 2018 - 10:02am

A PAC linked to the Clark County Education Association is going up with a new TV ad panning Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Giunchigliani for apparently not paying attention to a public commenter during a public hearing.

The 15-second spot from the Nevada Leads PAC is scheduled to start running statewide  on Tuesday and run through Election Day on June 12. It features video of a man giving testimony Oct. 11, 2016, while the Nevada Senate met during a special session to consider authorizing public funds for a Raiders stadium.

CCEA leader John Vellardita says the man was an unemployed worker speaking in support of the stadium deal.

“A working man. A public hearing. A story of hardship,” the narrator says.

It then zooms in to Giunchigliani, who is sitting a few rows from the front and apparently showing a woman next to her something on her cellphone. They both laugh.

“Here’s Chris Giunchigliani. Laughing, not listening,” it continues. “Not Nevada’s next governor.”

The commercial is the latest volley in a divisive primary between Giunchigliani and fellow Clark County commissioner Steve Sisolak. Giunchigliani has the endorsement of the state-level teacher’s union, the Nevada State Education Association, while Sisolak has backing from CCEA, the former local affiliate that recently split with NSEA.

Giunchigliani’s campaign manager Eric Hyers called the spot “perhaps the most absurd attack ad we’ve seen.”

“Steve and his allies are attacking Chris for, believe it or not, sitting in the audience of a hearing on the $750M Raiders boondoggle and talking to a DREAMer for a few seconds,” Hyers said. “The ad does two things very clearly: it shows that Steve is grasping at straws. And it shows that Steve wants this race to be about anything other than his record. If Steve Sisolak’s allies want to waste their money on this silly ad, we encourage them to continue running it.”

Disclosure: NSEA, Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
This story was updated at 11:40 a.m. on May 14, 2018 to reflect the ad is scheduled to start running on May 15 and add details about the public meeting featured in the ad. It was updated again at 11:50 to add comment from Giunchigliani’s campaign.
INDY FAST FACTS Steve Sisolak Job: Clark County commission chairman Party: Democrat In current office: 2009-present Commission chairman since 2013 Birthdate: December 26, 1953 Education: University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee (B.S.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.B.A.) Other public offices held: Nevada System of Higher Education Regent (1999-2009) Total donations: $7,869,927 (1/12/11-12/31/17) Top donors: MGM Resorts International $174,359 Station Casinos/Zuffa: $90,000 Las Vegas Sands $75,000 Fidelity National $61,600 Marnell Companies LLC $55,000
INDY FAST FACTS Chris Giunchigliani Job: Clark County Commissioner Party: Democrat In current office: 2007-present Birthdate: November 27, 1954 Education: Avila College (B.A.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.A.) Other public offices held: State Assemblywoman, District 9 (1991-2006) Total donations: $1,920,870 (5/08/13-12/31/17) Top donors: Giunchigliani (Chris, Jeanne, JM, Larry, Myrna, Ellen): $65,000 MGM Resorts International $43,165 Caesars Entertainment $35,000 Buck and Aurora Wong $30,000 South Point Hotel & Casino/F&M Advertising $30,000

Supported by Sandoval, Lombardo launches first ad of re-election campaign

Riley Snyder
May 14th, 2018 - 10:00am

Featuring endorsements from Gov. Brian Sandoval and two high-profile Democratic lawmakers, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo has gone up with the first television ad of his re-election campaign.

The ad, which was first published on social media last week, features Sandoval, Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela and Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick singing the praises of Lombardo and the police department, including an increase in the number of officers, detectives and a rising percentage of crimes being solved.

“Leadership, vision, a true commitment to public safety — that’s Joe Lombardo,” Sandoval says in the ad.

According to filings published by the Federal Communications Commission, Lombardo has placed several television advertisement buys beginning last week and running through the primary election in June.

Lombardo, a Republican, defeated retired police captain Larry Burns on a narrow 51 to 49 percent split in the 2014 election for the nonpartisan office. He’ll face off against Gordon Martines, former North Las Vegas police department lieutenant Tim Bedwell, Matt Caldwell and Gregory S. Heiny in the state’s June primary election.

According to campaign finance reports, Lombardo raised nearly $700,000 in campaign funds throughout 2017.

Disclosure: Joseph Lombardo has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
INDY FAST FACTS Brian Sandoval Job: Nevada Governor Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: August 5, 1963 Education: University of Nevada, Reno (B.A.) Ohio State University (J.D.) Other public offices held: U.S. District Court Judge (2005-2009) Nevada State Attorney General (2003-2005) Nevada Gaming Commission Chair (1999-2001) Nevada Gaming Commission Member (1998-2001) State Assemblyman, District 25 (1994-1998) Total donations: $4,984,248 (1/07/11 - 7/5/17) Top donors: Caesars Entertainment $245,000 Station Casinos $158,072 MGM Resorts International $160,000 Wynn Resorts $80,000 Marnell Properties LLC $70,000

Culinary Union affiliate starts running ads for House candidate Steven Horsford, highlighting his 2014 loss

Michelle Rindels
May 10th, 2018 - 11:48am

A new pair of commercials launched by a political action committee linked to the Culinary Union is taking the unusual step of highlighting former Rep. Steven Horsford’s hard loss four years ago.

The two commercials, backed by Culinary Union umbrella organization UNITE Here, started Wednesday and are set to run for the next month in the Las Vegas market as Horsford seeks to set himself apart from a large field of Democratic primary opponents. One features a worker in a hard hat speaking somberly about one-term Horsford’s 2014 loss to Republican Cresent Hardy.

“When Steven Horsford went to Congress, he stood for things that some of us took for granted,” the actor says. “100 percent record with Planned Parenthood. Overtime pay. Protecting DREAMers. And jobs with benefits.”

“The Republicans defeated Steven,” the actor continues. “And none of that is safe anymore.”

Another version features a young woman asking viewers if they remember that Horsford supported Planned Parenthood, DREAMers and protections for women in the workplace during his time in Congress.

Horsford’s surprise defeat in his 2014 re-election bid to the Democratic-leaning 4th Congressional District has been attributed in part to low enthusiasm among Democrats during that cycle.

Horsford is the only Democratic candidate with experience in Congress and is the best-funded of his primary opponents, who include state Sen. Pat Spearman, progressive health-care advocate Amy Vilela, high school principal John Anzalone and Nevada System of Higher Education Regent Allison Stephens. A former director of the Culinary Union’s job training academy, he also scored that group’s coveted endorsement.

 

Disclosure: The Culinary Union has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
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