Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller, who’s running for Nevada attorney general, on Monday threatened to pursue “every legal option” to force the State Government Leadership Foundation to reveal its donors after the group launched an attack ad and website against him.
The ad, which is part of a $500,000 campaign against Miller, slams him for accepting $60,000 in freebies to attend UFC fights, shows on the Strip and a Beverly Hills conference and accuses him of living the high life. Miller reported all the gifts on financial disclosure statements.
The nonprofit foundation, however, doesn’t have to disclose its donors because it is registered with the IRS as a “social welfare” organization. It also can receive unlimited contributions. The group is aligned with several GOP organizations, including the Republican Attorneys General Association, and typically targets Democrats.
“My disclosure forms are public for anyone to see,” Miller said Monday in a statement. “The real question is, why won’t this group also be transparent, and disclose the funders who paid for this ad? Nevadans have the right to know who is trying to buy their vote and what they hope to gain.”
Miller called on the donors “to come out of the shadows, disclose their donations, and debate the issues in the light of day.
“Until then, I will continue to review every legal option to compel this front group to reveal its special interest donors,” Miller said.
The secretary of state has a record of fighting third-party groups that protect identities of donors or fail to file paperwork to operate in Nevada. But last fall, Miller lost a key case he filed in Nevada against Americans for Prosperity, a group partly funded by David and Charles Koch.
A judge in Carson City ruled on Oct. 17 that AFP wasn’t required to register with the secretary of state’s office or file campaign contribution and expense forms. The case involved AFP fliers attacking then-Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, who successfully ran for the state Senate, for backing a renewable energy bill. The fliers didn’t call for voters to reject Atkinson or vote for his opponent, however.
Similarly, the 30-second ad by the State Government Leadership Foundation doesn’t call for voting against Miller and doesn’t mention his main Republican opponent, attorney Adam Laxalt.
Instead, the ad urges viewers: “Tell Ross Miller to stop living the high life at your expense,” although all the gifts were from private entities and no taxpayer money was involved.
Miller said the group shouldn’t hide behind court rulings.
“As Secretary of State, I’ve led the fight to clean up our elections, and keep anonymous special interest money out of Nevada campaigns,” Miller said. “So it’s no surprise that a Washington-based special interest group is coming after me. While the U.S. Supreme Court may have given this group the right to spend money on elections, they have no right to hide their donors, or ignore our laws.”
The ad can be seen at bit.ly/1npDr2v and the website is millershouseofcards.com.