Settlement reached in Nevada case against ‘dark money’ campaign spending

CARSON CITY — The secretary of state’s office on Wednesday announced what it is calling a landmark settlement with a political group over “illegal, anonymous” campaign spending.

Under the agreement, the Alliance for America’s Future, a Virginia-based 501(c)(4) organization that spent more than $200,000 on political ads in 2010, will pay a $40,000 fine, the largest ever imposed for a Nevada campaign finance violation.

The settlement resolves all remaining issues in the case, including AAF’s 2013 appeal.

Secretary of State Ross Miller first filed the complaint in 2010 with Carson City District Court after AAF spent more than $200,000 running political ads but failed to comply with state disclosure laws.

In November 2013, that court ordered AAF to provide the disclosures and to pay a fine, an order the group appealed.

The settlement will result in a dismissal of AAF’s appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court, require it to register as a political action committee and require contribution and expenditure reports to be filed for the 2010 election cycle. The reports have already been filed with the secretary of state’s office.

The group ran ads in favor of Gov. Brian Sandoval in the 2010 election but did not register as a political action committee.

When Miller filed the legal action to stop the ads in 2010 until the group registered, he said: “This out-of-state organization is attempting to influence the outcome of a Nevada election and, at the same time, dodge state law that requires disclosure and transparency in election activity. It’s my job as chief elections officer to pull groups like this out of the shadows so voters can see who they are.”

The reports filed with the secretary of state’s office as a result of the settlement show a single contribution of $230,000 from the Republican Governor’s Public Policy Committee of Washington, D.C., to fund its Nevada campaign.

The committee describes itself as the policy arm of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and the official policy organization of the nation’s Republican governors.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.