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National Republican group funded attempt to recall Farley

Updated December 8, 2017 - 10:11 pm

A national Republican group bankrolled campaigns to recall three Nevada state senators.

Republican State Leadership Committee president Matthew Walter confirmed Friday that his organization had donated $160,000 to the Committee to Recall Senator Patricia Farley.

“My understanding is we’re the sole contributor,” Walter said.

Walter said his organization, which works for Republican control of state legislatures across the U.S., donated a total of three times in August, September and October.

The recipient committee’s goal was to force a recall election of Farley, an independent from Las Vegas who was elected in 2014 as a Republican. The attempt fizzled after backers collected fewer than one-third of the 7,107 signatures needed.

Michelle White, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Senate Democrats, issued a statement Friday from Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford. “The recall effort against Senator Farley was a fraud on the public. The more we learn, the clearer it is that this entire campaign has been nothing more than a scam,” the statement said.

Walter said the organization had also donated to committees attempting to recall state Sens. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, and Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas. Walter did not disclose how much was donated to those efforts.

A campaign finance report filed with the Nevada secretary of state, however, shows that the Farley recall committee donated $25,000 to the Committee to Recall Senator Nicole Cannizzaro and close to $28,000 to the Committee to Recall Senator Joyce Woodhouse.

An additional $30,000 worth of signature-gathering services and $3,000 worth of legal services were donated to each of the two other committees.

Walter said his organization has not previously donated to recall efforts tied to the Nevada Legislature but decided to after seeing that lawmakers had embarked on, as he described it, “one of the most anti-taxpayer, anti-business, pro-felon agendas in Nevada history.”

Walter said the committee did not make any requirements about how the money was spent.

“We have been observing the irresponsible governance of the progressive liberals in the Nevada Legislature over the course of the session earlier this year and have seen the frustration and heard the outcry from the residents and voters within their district,” he said.

The money spent was part of the organization’s $40 million budget for efforts to control and capture state legislatures in 2017 and 2018 elections, Walter said.

“I want to make it perfectly clear that we have not received any encouragement or direct funds from any businesses or individuals in Nevada to support these recalls,” he said.

The statement from Ford pointed to the Republican committee’s confirmation that the recall efforts didn’t receive any funding from Nevadans as proof that the recall efforts were not launched at the requests or demands of constituents in these districts. “These are disgraceful attempts to buy state senate seats, and Nevadans can only be glad they are failing so completely.”

The petition against Woodhouse gathered enough signatures, but the eligibility of some 5,500 is being challenged. Clark County is verifying whether the petition to recall Cannizzaro has enough valid signatures to move forward.

Both efforts are being challenged in federal court.

Republican groups aren’t the only ones to funnel money into the state. The Washington Post reported that the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee raised nearly $1 million to fight the recall efforts.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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