Special Interests, Dark Money Bankrolling Joe Lombardo’s Candidacy

In line with his history of having zero transparency with the public, Joe Lombardo is now in the spotlight after recent reporting on the dark money and special interests fueling his campaign. The pro-Lombardo Better Nevada PAC has propped up Lombardo’s gubernatorial run with millions spent on TV ads since September, but with their funding coming from only three donors–all partially or totally backed by dark money–Nevadans are in the dark (pun intended) about who’s actually funding the ads they’re seeing.

Read more about Lombardo’s shady backers below.

The Nevada Independent: Free from donation limits, PACs pour millions into governor’s race, ballot questions

Riley Snyder

May 9, 2022

Key Points:

  • But over the past several months, ads boosting Lombardo and attacking his GOP primary rivals have been broadcast on television airways across the state.
  • The difference? Those earlier ads were produced and paid for by Better Nevada, a political action committee set up last year to boost Lombardo’s candidacy in part by taking advantage of loose state campaign finance laws that allow for unlimited donations and spending by PACs.
  • While individual candidates are subject to a $10,000 contribution limit per cycle ($5,000 each for the primary and general), political action committees in Nevada are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts — similar to how super PACs on the federal level operate.
  • That dynamic means that Better Nevada has been able to raise more than $3.6 million and spend $2.8 million on television ads  — more than any Republican candidate for governor — and from only three donors.
  • Over the last nine months, the PAC has reported raising $3.6 million from just three sources, including $2.5 million in transfers from Stronger Nevada PAC.
  • Stronger Nevada has taken contributions from a much broader range of sources, including $100,000 each from social media influencer Dan Bilzerian and a little-known Wyoming-based company called “Goldhaus, LLC” that was registered a month before making the donation. Few details are available about Goldhaus.
  • But the biggest donor to Stronger Nevada is Sedona Magnet LLC, a company registered in November 2020 that lists prominent Las Vegas businessman Robert T. Bigelow as its sole officer. Bigelow is the owner of extended-stay apartment chain Budget Suites of America and has been a vocal opponent of eviction moratoriums created during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The other top donor is American Exceptionalism Institute, a so-called dark money 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy and social welfare organization that is not required to reveal its donors. The group, which contributed a combined $985,000 to Stronger Nevada PAC in 2020, has been closely tracked by nonprofit watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) for taking advantage of nonprofit tax rules to contribute millions of dollars to super PACs and other political organizations despite donor secrecy.
  • American Exceptionalism Institute also made a direct $1 million contribution to Better Nevada PAC (the one running the pro-Lombardo ads) in February — bringing the group’s total contributions to just over $2 million to the two PACs.
  • The third donor to Better Nevada PAC is another “dark money” 501(c)(4) nonprofit called A Public Voice Inc., which contributed $100,000 to the PAC in January. The same group made a $95,000 contribution to Stronger Nevada PAC in November.
  • A Public Voice Inc. was initially set up a decade ago to oppose an Ohio redistricting proposal, but has morphed into what CREW calls a “dark money network” that has injected at least $36.6 million into elections nationwide since 2011. That network, which includes American Exceptionalism Institute, shares common registered agents and tax preparers, and has been linked to the same group of Ohio-based Republican political operatives.

Read the full story here.