Even amid a crushing global pandemic and the worst economic crisis to hit the state since the Great Recession, more than $10.6 million in big-money campaign contributions flowed to 61 Nevada lawmakers through the two-year 2020 campaign cycle.
Of that money, nearly half — roughly $5.1 million — came from just five industries: real estate and development, unions and labor groups, health care groups, other candidates or politicians and business interests.
Even in Nevada, which boasts a non-professionalized citizen Legislature, legislative candidates routinely raise tens-of-thousands of dollars per cycle, and those in the swingiest districts often raise six-figures or more.
And though candidates tout the many small-dollar gifts to their campaigns, the vast majority of any warchest is filled almost entirely by big-money spending on the part of political action committees, corporations, wealthy individuals and political groups.
To break it all down, The Nevada Independent categorized more than 7,700 individual contributions greater than $200 — a cutoff that excludes most small-dollar individual contributions, but still captures nearly all money raised by Nevada legislators.
This data set does not capture every contour of the state’s campaign finance landscape. Of note, it excludes contributions to losing candidates, as well as those contributions under the $200 threshold.
The data also excludes two lawmakers who were elected in 2020, but resigned before the legislative session began: Sen. Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas), who left to take a post in the Biden Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, and Asm. Alexander Assefa (D-Las Vegas), who resigned amid a criminal probe into alleged campaign funds misuse and a residency issue.
Still, taken as a whole, the data provides a collective picture of how Nevada’s biggest industries fund campaigns for state office.
Over the coming weeks, The Nevada Independent will dive deep into the specific spending of