weather icon Clear

Nevada political contributions neared $30M in 2019

Nearly $30 million in political contributions changed hands in Nevada last year among candidates, PACs, unions, corporations and other entities, with groups controlled by Democrats, Gov. Steve Sisolak, realtors, labor and Clark County municipal candidates topping lists of contributors and recipients.

A much smaller number, just over $584,000, was reported for in-kind contributions, reflecting the monetary value of non-cash assistance such as donated space, materials or services.

Those totals are drawn from a review of some 17,500 transactions from nearly 8,000 individuals or groups to 400 candidates, PACs or other entities, contained in financial disclosures filed with the Secretary of State’s office in 2019. The numbers include transfers among political action committees as well as direct donations.

With 2019 an off-year for state elections, candidates for local office in Clark County and Las Vegas were among the top recipients of political donations. Overall, the state Democratic Party received the most of any single organization, taking in nearly $1.7 million.

Steve Sisolak, who assumed office in 2019 as the state’s first Democratic governor in 20 years, received nearly as much as the state party, at more than $1.6 million. Two other related committees, the governor’s Inaugural Committee and a spinoff PAC, Home Means Nevada, together took in more than $2.4 million for the year.


After the governor, candidates for Clark County Commission and Las Vegas City Council were the top recipients of campaign cash in 2019. Michael Naft, appointed to the commission by Sisolak to fill the vacancy created when Sisolak was elected governor, raised nearly $961,000 toward his upcoming 2020 race for the seat. Next highest was Brian Knudsen, elected to the Las Vegas City Council in June, who raised roughly $932,000.

Among other officeholders, Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who also faces a 2020 race, raised $393,000. At the state level, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, was the top recipient, taking in more than $322,000. Following her among state lawmakers were Sen. Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, at roughly $239,000, and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, at nearly $233,000.

Other recipients

Outside of state Democrats and the governor’s campaign groups, political action committees controlled by Realtors were the largest recipients, with three realtor PACs taking in more than $2.6 million combined, including transfers from other PACs.

Operating Engineers Local 3, representing construction workers in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah, reported nearly $878,000 in individual members’ contributions of $100 or less.

Among special interest PACs, Consumers for Judicial Equality raised $400,000 on a pair of $200,000 donations from Las Vegas personal injury lawyers Sean Claggett and Benjamin Cloward. Healthy Nevada got $400,000 from Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a trade group representing the U.S. pharma industry.


After the Realtors group and the construction trades union, PhRMA was the largest political contributor in Nevada in 2019, leaving behind $737,000 in all. Besides the Healthy Nevada PAC contribution, it donated $250,000 to the state Democratic Party, the largest single campaign contribution of the year outside of transfers. Sisolak’s Inaugural Committee moved $687,000 to the related Home Means Nevada PAC. A national PAC controlled by JP Morgan Chase bank moved $500,000 into its state affiliate.

Resort operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. made $157,500 in monetary contributions in 2019 to both Democrats and Republicans, including a $50,000 contribution to the Sisolak Inaugural Committee. It made an in-kind contribution of nearly $101,000 to Keystone Corporation, a conservative, business-focused state PAC, to cover the cost of facility rental, food and beverage at the group’s annual dinner in November.

Unions represented most of the other top contributors – those contributing more than $200,000 – with a couple of exceptions: Zuffa, the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts sports promoter, parceled out $220,000 in bipartisan fashion via 49 donations to candidates or committees. And Las Vegas homebuilder Richard Plaster donated just over $200,000 to his unsuccessful bid for Las Vegas City Council.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation - VIDEO
The former senate aide claims Biden assaulted her in 1993 when he was a senator. Biden first denied the accusations via a public post on Medium. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RJ interview with Sisolak on the reopening plan for Nevada - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on the plan for reopening Nevada during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak reacts to Goodman CNN interview- VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman repeated her call to immediately reopen businesses during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, leading to a reaction from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak praises Nevadans for staying at home, saving lives - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday it’s still too early to know when the state’s COVID-19 shutdown orders could be lifted or when businesses could start to reopen their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump gives governors 3-phase approach to open US - VIDEO
President Donald Trump declared victory in America’s war against the “invisible enemy” as the president’s Coronavirus Task Force released “Opening up America Again” guidelines. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump names Jacky Rosen to task force on reopening economy - VIDEO
President Donald Trump named Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to be a member of his Opening Up America Again Congressional Group Thursday to advise him on coronavirus policy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for president - VIDEO
On April 13, former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his official endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders drops out of 2020 Democratic race for president - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont officially announced an end to his 2020 presidential bid on Wednesday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic National Convention postponed - VIDEO
The Democratic National Convention was set to take place over four days in the middle of July. Democratic officials have now confirmed the convention will take place the week of Aug. 17. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson allows immediate sale of alcohol with curbside pickup - VIDEO
The city of Henderson decided Thursday evening to allow alcohol to be sold by restaurants as part of their curbside pickup service during the COVID-19 crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak signs order banning any gathering of 10 or more people - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed a new order banning any gathering of 10 or more people in Nevada in another step the state has taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Takeaways from the president's daily briefing on coronavirus - VIDEO
RJ Washington correspondent Debra Saunders talks about today's daily White House news conference regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judicial Department 5 Debate - Video
The Las Vegas Review-Journal hosts a debate between the 3 candidates running for Department 5 in Clark County District Court. Participating are Veronica M. Barisich, Terry A. Coffing and Blair Cowan Parker.
Trump cancels Las Vegas trip because of ‘coronavirus outbreak’ - VIDEO
President Donald Trump canceled planned travel to Las Vegas ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump signs $8.3 billion coronavirus package - VIDEO
President Trump signed a bill providing $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreaK, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Cortez Masto shows support for Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto shows her support for senior state District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench in Nevada. (Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto)
Sen. Rosen supports Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen shows her support for Nevada Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench. (Sen. Jacky Rosen)
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews resigns following series of controversies - VIDEO
The "Hardball" host announced his departure Monday night, March 2, 2020, effective immediately. The anchor recently came under fire for comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucasus to the Nazi conquest of France in 1940. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Candidates file for office in Clark County - VIDEO
Amy Klobuchar drops out of 2020 presidential race - VIDEO
On March 2, campaign officials announced Amy Klobuchar’s decision to suspend her presidential bid. The news comes on the eve of Super Tuesday and just one day after Pete Buttigieg also announced his decision to depart from the race. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Secretary of state: Mail ballots distributed properly

The Nevada secretary of state’s office took an extra step Friday to clarify “ongoing confusion” over the all-vote-by-mail June 9 state primary, seeking to clarify misunderstandings over how mail ballots have been distributed.

Nevada faces even larger budget cuts

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s administration is asking for even deeper budget cuts in the coming fiscal year than those already announced as the state struggles with huge drops in revenue because of the coronavirus-triggered business shutdown.