Even as lawmakers perennially tout the strength of their small-dollar fundraising, the driving force of any campaign in any cycle — with few exceptions — is big-money donors.
Often contributing upwards of six-figures across dozens of campaigns, money from these donors often comprises the vast majority of campaign funds, especially in the most competitive legislative campaigns.
However, while all these contributions are reported to Nevada’s secretary of state every quarter, parsing trends from such reports or determining how corporate or PAC donors are spending in the aggregate is no simple task, as each contribution is siloed either under individual candidates or individual donors.
To get at those trends, The Nevada Independent analyzed more than 7,700 individual contributions of more than $200 made to every sitting lawmaker elected in 2020.
That $200 cutoff excludes a small portion of small-dollar fundraising, as well as two lawmakers who were appointed to their seats in 2021 (Sen. Fabian Donate, D-Las Vegas and Assemblywoman Tracy Brown-May, D-Las Vegas) and any fundraising by losing candidates.
What is left is an expansive picture of the spending habits of Nevada’s biggest industries, from unions and casinos to health care giants and dark-money PACs. Over the course of our Follow the Money series, we’ve taken a deep dive into the spending of the state’s 10 largest industries, a group of donors that collectively spent $7.8 million of the $10.6 million in big money legislative contributions last cycle.
Links to all previous installments of this series, including top-line breakdowns of all spending and all fundraising, have been included at the end of this article.
But beyond the largest 10 are the 14 “smallest” industries, according to our categorizations, which still spent upwards of $2.8 million combined. Below is a breakdown of that campaign spending, ordered by industry, from greatest to