A well-connected Republican PAC, casinos and a gun control group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were among the top five entities that donated to Nevada state races during the 2014 election cycle, the Center for Public Integrity said Wednesday.
The totals come from disclosures made by candidates and state political parties, as well as state and federal records of 140 independent groups that spent money on television ads during the election cycle.
The analysis does not include donations tied to ballot initiative campaigns or federal races for the U.S. House or Senate. It also doesn’t offer a complete bottom line on donations, given that disclosure rules and schedules vary from state-to-state.
Here are a few things to know about the major financial players in Nevada state politics:
1. New Nevada PAC: This organization is operated through prominent Republican political fundraising firm October Inc. It spent $1.2 million this election cycle, shelling out thousands to Republicans including Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Lieutenant Gov. Mark Hutchison. It also donated to Republican legislators who ultimately won competitive races, including Sen. Becky Harris and Sen. Patricia Farley. But its biggest donations went to the Nevada Jobs Coalition, a PAC that spent an estimated $700,000 on airtime to run TV ads attacking Democratic former Sen. Justin Jones, according to the center. His ultimate defeat helped turn the Senate from Democratic to Republican control.
2. MGM Resorts International: The casino giant contributed more than $702,000 to front-runner candidates on both sides of the political spectrum. With 55,000 employees in Nevada, MGM is the state’s largest private employer, and generous donations help solidify its seat at the legislative table.
“The decisions of elected officials can have significant impact upon business operations,” the company said in a statement. “MGM Resorts views that it is an imperative for our company, our employees and the community, for all to actively participate in the political process, including contributions, but also including candidate interviews, employee information sharing, and issues advocacy.”
3. Everytown for Gun Safety: This PAC spent $665,000 on state races this past cycle, according to the center. Most of the group’s money came from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and went to the Nevada State Democratic Party, with smaller donations to state Sen. Justin Jones, who sponsored a gun control measure last session, and state Sen. Debbie Smith.
The group is also the key supporter of Nevadans for Background Checks, which dedicated most of its money to a firm that organizes paid and volunteer campaign workers. A successful petition drive attracted 247,000 signatures — enough to land a gun control measure on the 2016 ballot if lawmakers don’t pass the measure as a bill by the 40th day of the legislative session. The prospect of a bill passing is a long shot after Republicans took control of both houses of the Legislature.
4. Wynn Resorts: The casino giant spent more than $525,000 in donations to front-runners across the political spectrum and also gave large sums to the Nevada Resort Association, the casino industry lobbying group, and New Nevada PAC. With more than 11,000 employees at the Wynn and Encore casinos in Las Vegas, the company stands to win big or lose big from what comes out of the Legislature.
5. Eddie Hamilton: His title as a top campaign donor is a bit of a misnomer. Campaign finance reports show the tea party governor hopeful who took 3 percent of the vote in June’s Republican primary received more than half a million dollars in in-kind, non-cash contributions — from himself. But that’s because he estimated that the tens of thousands of tweets and comments he and his supporters posted on online news stories are worth half a million dollars. The Twitter account (at)ElectHamilton regularly directs a similar, mostly caps tweet to a variety of journalists, politicians and political groups.