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October 24, 2014

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Who knows what your campaign money buys?

As we enter the political season and you’re asked to contribute money to a candidate’s campaign, keep in mind that the rules are pretty loose on how your donation can be spent and how that spending is publicly reported. You may assume your money will go toward a TV commercial, a mailing or for campaign supplies. Maybe. But maybe not. Until the law demands greater details, this is as transparent as it’s going to get.

• Last year, Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, met several Japanese exchange students who were traveling across the country. He told us they seemed ready for a good meal so, in the interest of international relations, he took them out to dinner at Nozomi. The $297.55 tab was picked up by his campaign treasury.

• Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, gave $4,367.01 to himself for expenses related to “special events” and “travel.” That was all the law required; Grady didn’t respond to our email seeking explanation.

• Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, spent $699.35 at Total Wine in Summerlin — and probably not on copy paper. The specifics were not disclosed.

• Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, spent $2,224.43 on an American Express card and listed the expenses as “office,” “volunteers,” “travel” and “special events,” without elaborating. Manendo didn’t respond with an explanation either.

• Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, spent $350, and Assemblyman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, spent $585.70, on dry cleaning in Carson City. Lookin’ good on the campaign trail.

• Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, used $12,000 of campaign money to pay down a Bank of America card, saying only that the charges were “miscellaneous” expenses. The law was met. He told us he could have spent a couple of hours writing down the details, but the law didn’t require it and he didn’t want his political opponents to know what he was buying.

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