Las Vegas Sun

April 23, 2017

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These are the D.C. pros who fight for Nevada

Some of Las Vegas’ most influential players don’t have offices in the Capitol or answer to constituents. They’re lobbyists, political strategists and former lawmakers — players in a $3 billion industry trying to win over lawmakers for a cause. Nevada has a strong team of behind-the-scenes influence-peddlers. Here’s a look at six of them:

SUSAN MCCUE

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Susan McCue

HER RESUME: Sen. Harry Reid’s former chief of staff is one of the most influential Democrats in Washington and the woman behind the party’s increasingly savvy outside-spending strategy.

HER STORY: McCue worked her way up the ranks of Reid’s staff to become the senator’s top aide from 1999 to 2007. She strategized for the then-minority leader during his near-constant battles with then-President George W. Bush. McCue left Capitol Hill after 16 years to run the anti-poverty One Campaign; she counts its founder, Bono, as a personal friend. She now runs her own Washington public affairs firm, Message Global, and is considered one of the most well-connected people in the city.

HER INFLUENCE: After Reid’s 2010 re-election, McCue co-founded the Senate Majority PAC, aimed at helping Democrats win back the keys to the Senate in 2016 and helping Reid win his sixth re-election.

The PAC spent $46 million during the 2014 midterms, compared with $21 million from the comparable Republican organization American Crossroads, according to OpenSecrets.org. Even though Republicans took the Senate, McCue’s aggressive fundraising strategy marked a shift in how Democrats play the big-money game.

KAI ANDERSON

HIS RESUME: The Stanford-educated geologist is a former top aide for Reid (sensing a theme here?) focused on public lands, a critical job given that Nevada is almost 85 percent federally owned. Anderson now is a top public lands and energy lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

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Kai Anderson

HIS STORY: Anderson worked for Reid for six years, eventually becoming his deputy chief of staff. During that time, he helped Reid preserve Nevada wilderness, water resources and Native American lands. Anderson went on to become co-chair of the Washington lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates, where he helps clients from Nevada to New York secure congressional support for development and conservation projects on public lands.

HIS INFLUENCE: Anderson believes development and conservation aren’t mutually exclusive. He has helped protect 538,000 acres of wilderness, much in Nevada, while advancing major infrastructure projects. He also is working to develop transmission lines that can help Nevada export its geothermal, solar and wind energy to other states.

MARCUS FAUST

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Marcus Faust

HIS RESUME: Faust, a lawyer, runs his own boutique lobbying firm that focuses almost exclusively on counties, cities, water authorities and utility companies in Nevada and Utah.

HIS STORY: The native Westerner specializes in understanding the minutia of law, a valuable skill set in Washington. He founded his firm in 1981.

HIS INFLUENCE: 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.



JON PORTER

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Jon Porter

HIS RESUME: Porter is a former three-term Republican Congressman from Nevada, serving from 2002 to 2009. He stuck around Washington to start a lobbying firm, Porter Gordon Silver.

HIS STORY: The former Boulder City mayor was elected in 2002 to represent Nevada’s newly created 3rd Congressional District, which spanned the Las Vegas suburbs. Porter lost re-election in 2008 to Rep. Dina Titus.

HIS INFLUENCE: Working just blocks from the Capitol, Porter and his lobbying team are frequent guests in lawmakers’ offices. They are leaders in the debate on how to protect online gaming from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to ban it. They also work to bring more business to Nevada, particularly in the tourism and drone sectors.

Porter represents the Las Vegas Metro Chamber, city of North Las Vegas and Reno Tahoe National Airport.

RYAN MCGINNESS

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Ryan McGinness

HIS RESUME: McGinness is Nevada’s chief federal lobbyist and Gov. Brian Sandoval’s liaison to Washington.

HIS STORY: McGinness, a fifth-generation Nevadan and son of Republican state Sen. Mike McGinness, worked as an aide for former Sen. John Ensign before becoming a lobbyist. He took over as director of Nevada’s two-person D.C. office in 2006.

HIS INFLUENCE: McGinness works with Congress and federal agencies to champion all legislation benefitting Nevada. He’s currently focused on getting federal funding to build Interstate 11 through Las Vegas and trying to keep the sage grouse off the endangered species list, a designation that could close off large portions of Northern Nevada to development and recreation. His team also is trying to thwart renewed efforts to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump.

PAUL LAXALT

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Paul Laxalt

HIS RESUME: Laxalt is a former two-term U.S. senator and Nevada governor and one of the most enduring state political figures of the ’70s and ’80s. After leaving public office in 1987, he joined a prestigious New York law firm and later founded the Paul Laxalt Group.

HIS STORY: In Congress, Laxalt gained a reputation as a powerful politician with a direct line to the White House. He and President Ronald Reagan met as governors and remained close friends in Washington. Laxalt also earned respect from Democrats, including Reid, who welcomed the senior Republican’s friendship.

HIS INFLUENCE: After retiring from Capitol Hill, Laxalt tried to leverage his contacts for a short-lived presidential run in 1988. He settled into lobbying, and with his daughter, Michelle Laxalt, represented the American Gaming Association, Sirius Satellite Radio and Lockheed Martin.

The 92-year-old isn’t actively lobbying these days, but his name still reverberates in Nevada and Washington.

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