One of the primary tasks undertaken in the process of opposition research is to determine the source and amounts of the opponent’s campaign donations. This is done primarily to understand not only the business interests of the donors, but the monetary “influence” pressed upon the candidate upon accepting those donations. The larger the donation, the greater the expectation of both influence and political sway by the candidate to favor said business once he/she has taken office.
I recently undertook a review of Bob Lucey’s campaign contributions as listed on the Nevada Secretary of State Website (http://nvsos.gov/). Lucey has received over $110,000 in campaign donations since his 2014 win, including “small” donations (under $100). I was interested in finding the business trends in his donor pool, so I collated information on all the donors/donations above $150 for 2017/18. This donation pool totalled $97,750. While collating these larger donations, I noted that most came from businesses and people associated with them, rather than private donors. I researched each business and organized them into the following groups, based on business interest and specialty: developers, general business, casinos, builders and building supplies, cannabis, lobbyists, lawyers, local government entities, real estate and utilities. The table below lists these donor groups and their total donations and percentage of Lucey’s campaign funding they’ve contributed:
|Donor Interest Group||Donation||Percent of Total|
|Builders & building supplies||$10,500.00||11|
|Local gov’t entities||$4,250.00||4|
Here are a few salient facts regarding some of these donors:
It’s no surprise that most of Lucey’s donations come from developers. He and the county commissioners have responded in kind by approving a record number of housing and business developments in Washoe County from 2015-18. The developer donors include but are not limited to: Symbio LLC (Ascente), Paul Tenguay (Sybio and Ascente) and Mike Barnes (Symbio, NNV1 Partners), Bristol Land Company of CA,Toll Brothers , Lifestyle Homes TND LLC, NNV1 Partners LLC (see Mike Barnes), Park Lane Associates, Reno Land Inc., and Reno Quality Homes.
Builders and building supplies and services companies donating to Lucey include: AVK Company, Builders Association of Nevada, ERGS Inc., Granite Construction Company, Green Solutions Recycling, NV Builders LLC, NV Recycling and Salvage, Inc. and Rubbish Runners, Inc.
The cannabis industry has Lucey’s interest. Benjamin Koppel, a Chicago resident, gave Lucey $5,000 in 2017 after his second (publicly disputed) marijuana dispensary was approved by the County. Good Chemistry NV, LLC and Washoe Dispensary also donated $1,000 each in the name of cannabis business.
Lobbyists have donated to Lucey: Capitol Partners, LLC and Olivia Sandford, a lobbyist based in D.C. Ms. Sandford is the “legislative director” (i.e. lobbyist) for Marcus G Faust, a “lobbying firm that focuses almost exclusively on counties, cities, water authorities and utility companies in Nevada and Utah” according to the Las Vegas Sun. The Las Vegas Sun also states “Faust prefers to remain behind the scenes, but his fingerprints are on landmark legislation that created the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, a national monument at Tule Springs and a payments-in-lieu of taxes program for rural Nevada counties with federal land. His customers are satisfied: A recent study on lobbyists put Faust at the top of the list for most retained clients in Washington.” On her linkedIn page, Ms Sandford claims a specialty in public lands. Hmmm? Lands Bill, anyone?
Another interesting tidbit: Lucey has received $1,500 from the Whittemore Group, Inc and Chase Whittemore. Chase is Harvey’s son, and is a lobbyist for Argentum Partners in Reno (who work for Newport Land Development, Ryder Homes, and Academica – the shady Florida charter company who also donated $1,000 to Lucey recently, as detailed further below). Harvey is listed as the current Executive Chairman of Whittemore Group. If you don’t recognize former lobbyist Harvey Whittemore: in 2014 he was sent to prison after being convicted of two counts of using employees and family to get around finance limits to contribute to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s re-election bid in 2007. He was also found guilty of causing Reid’s campaign to file a false Federal Election Commission report. At the time, he was developing a master planned community in LV through his business Wingfield Nevada Group.
The two men that own Academica NV LLC, Fernando and Ignacio Zuleta donated $1,000 to Lucey’s campaign in April. These men were caught several years back making very handsome donations to lawmakers in Florida in exchange for greasing the wheels for their business. (By the way, they have given $27,500 to political campaigns since 2015.) Academica cultivates links to lawmakers .9 Investigates lawmakers’ connections with charter schools
Academica was also under federal investigation in 2014. Academica Under Federal Investigation – Cashing in on Kids
In 2017, the State of NV approved the issuance of $31,190,000 in bonds (taxpayer money) to finance the acquisition of facilities and land improvements on behalf of Academica. http://www.nevadatreasurer.gov/uploadedFiles/nevadatreasurergov/content/Finances/Board/2017/2017-08-08_BoF_Materials.pdf This is money that should be going to our public schools, but will it? Academica has so far made over $150 million in annual revenue.
Academica: Florida’s richest charter school management firm 2012 article states, ” And despite recent cuts in state funding for public and charter schools, Academica’s schools have prospered financially: One of its chains of nonprofit schools has assets of more than $36 million.”
Last but not least – Casinos. The casino industry in Nevada have their collective fingers in so many business pies, they need their own blog post! We know that Hugh Hempel, a Harrahs Casino heir, is part of the Ascente development deal. Casinos donating to Lucey include Atlantis, Peppermill, Aruz Gaming America, Inc. and EE Gaming Technologies, Inc.
Do any of these businesses support us existing Washoe Residents to the degree that they support Lucey’s campaign? In other words, will we profit as much from land development, construction, lobbyists, casinos and cannabis as these business entities will if he’s elected? What price will we residents pay for ongoing uncontrolled land development if Lucey is elected? Do these businesses “count” more than we, Washoe Residents who Lucey was elected to represent? Do YOU feel adequately represented by our current County Commissioners?