CARSON CITY, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) – From YouTube videos, the Pokerstars annual conference in the Bahamas looks like a lot of fun. There's dancing, headliners like Kelly Rowland and the food. News 4 confirmed the corporation paid for Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford to attend the 2011 event.
A spokesperson for Horsford says he later paid back the money for that trip. But it doesn't change the fact that under the current law that trip did not have to be reported.
Pokerstars also shelled out the cash to fly Majority Whip William Horne and Commerce Chairman Kelvin Atkinson to corporate headquarters in Great Britain. But the company lobbyist never publicly reported these trips happening.
“They are doing that, the Pokerstars, the corporations so they can have public policies that favor them which are not particularly good for the state of Nevada,” Bob Fulkerson of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada said. “Silence and darkness and backrooms are the friends of the fat cat lobbyists. They hate it. You know they really hate the sunlight.”
In fact, a News 4 search of records detailing lobbyist's gifts doesn't reveal any of the trips.
They show our Horsford only received $47 since 2010. But remember he went to the Bahamas on a lobbyist dime in 2011. And in the London trip Atkinson reports 184 dollars. And Horne rings up the highest with 254 - which clearly is not enough to cover the flight. Most round trip tickets we could find are at least 1000-dollars.
It's not that anything illegal is going on here. Nevada statute only requires reporting from lobbyists during legislative sessions - that's four months out of every two years.
Over several days, News 4's called lobbyists. No one would go on camera proclaiming they were against the idea of year round reporting. However many did say they don't think there's a need to change the law.
Former State Senator Shelia Leslie sees it a different way from her first-hand experience.
“People are used to going out to dinner or playing golf with the lobbyists and not having to worry about explaing it later,” she said.
Leslie brought a bill last session to require reporting year round. In a rare bipartisan move that legislation passed the senate unanimously, but it didn't even make it out of the Assembly committee for a vote on the floor.
A spokesperson for Senator Steven Horsford says the State Senator paid $1500 back to pokerstars for a trip to the Bahamas.
The trip was in January 2011 and the reimbursement was made in July 2011. News 4 called to ask why it took almost six months to pay for that trip. Horsford’s congressional campaign spokesperson e-mailed us back writing, "The most important fact and the bottom line is that Steven reimbursed the money." Horsford was not legally required to payback that money.
We told you about a failed bill in the last session that would have closed the reporting loopholes. Records show Horsford did vote for that bill and his spokesman says the Senator is in favor of more open reporting of lobbyist gifts.