Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2018

Currently: 41° — Complete forecast

A guide to Nevada's out-of-state political contributions

By Conor Shine

More than $4 million has flown into Nevada from out-of-state political donors to local and state candidates this election cycle. The contributions come from sources as diverse as a Georgia payday lender, a Florida medical company and a California education group, according to a Las Vegas Sun analysis of data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The growth in out-of-state contributions reflects Nevada's position as a swing state, Sen. Harry Reid's influence and national groups' new focus on state-level politics.

Nevada political contributions by state

Nevada donors gave $15.5 million compared to more than $4 million from out-of-state sources. Washington, D.C., the second-largest source at $798,705, is not included on the map below. Candidates reported no contributions from New Hampshire or Maine.

Top 10 recipients of out-of-state contributions

About half of all out-of-state contributions has gone to just 10 candidates running for statewide offices or a Legislative leader up for election. Gov. Brian Sandoval collected 19 percent of all out-of-state contributions, a testament to his rising profile as a potential candidate for national office. His role as chief executive in a state with a part-time Legislature also gives him an outsized influence that has made him attractive to out-of-state donors. The list does not include federal candidates.

Top 10 states for out-of-state contributions to Nevada candidates

Nearly 75 percent of all out-of-state contributions to Nevada candidates came from just 10 places. California and Washington, D.C., topped the list and accounted for 40 cents of every dollar donated from outside Nevada. Washington, D.C., donors were led by Sen. Harry Reid’s political action committee and included a variety of other political groups and national organizations. From California, many of the contributions came from businesses with a presence in Nevada.

Contributions by year from Nevada and out of state

Out-of-state political contributions accounted for about one in every four dollars brought in by Nevada candidates this election cycle. That’s well off the mark of 2010, when the pitched battle between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Tea Party challenger Sharron Angle generated a storm of national interest. Money from out-of-state sources nearly equaled in-state contributions that year.​

Heavy hitters: The top five out-of-state donors

1. Barrick Gold Corp.: The Salt Lake City company made 77 contributions worth $240,500. With six gold mines in operation across Nevada, including the largest in North America, Barrick Gold Corp. stands to lose if the Legislature ever passes a mining tax, as it discussed last session. The company also has a stake in environmental regulations that could affect its business. Barrick Gold spread its campaign dollars to 42 candidates for state office, using subsidiaries to make multiple contributions to several people.

2. Titlemax: The Savannah, Ga., company made 18 contributions worth $82,500. The payday loan giant's 37 branches across Nevada already are highly regulated by the state after a legislative crackdown on the industry last decade. The company stayed active in Nevada politics to make sure any added regulations don’t affect its bottom line.

3. Searchlight Leadership Fund: Sen. Harry Reid's Washington, D.C. political action committee made 18 contributions worth $82,500. The committee has a simple goal: get Democrats elected in Reid's home state.

4. StudentsFirst: The Sacramento, Calif., group made 14 contributions worth $67,000. This group, headed by former Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, has taken its education reform mission to key battleground states. It is an antagonist to teachers unions, pushing for tenure reforms, increased school choice and new ways for judging the performance of teachers and students.

5. Mednax National Medical Group: The Sunrise, Fla., company made 15 contributions worth $67,500. Mednax is the nation’s largest provider of maternal, newborn and fetal care. The company operates in 34 states, including Nevada.


1. All data supplied by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. All analysis done by Las Vegas Sun reporter Conor Shine.

2. Contribution data does not include independent expenditures from third-party groups.

3. The data covers the 2014 election cycle beginning January 2011.

Reach Conor Shine at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Conor_Shine.