Silver State Secrets: Lobbyist loophole hides gifts

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Updated: 5/27/2012 6:23 pm
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.
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TJSnodgrassII - 5/16/2012 3:05 PM
0 Votes
@Ben Briscoe, regarding the beating of the drums, your investigation team should dig a bit deeper into the Nevada Mining Association's Annual Convention, which includes Golf at Edgewood (~$200 per round). This issue was already voiced back in November of 2011 in response to the tax loopholes and the illegal tax deductions the mining industry had been taking for years...yet nothing was done to the mining industry for their behavior. As a matter of curiosity, how many former Governors went on to sit on the Board of Directors for Mining Corporations after they left office? How many politicians and representatives from mining corporations are going to be at the NMA event this year? Only on News 4? http://www.lvrj.com/news/no-vote-on-transparency-bill-lets-lobbyists-keep-paying-tab-133791248.html

NVWatch Dog - 5/16/2012 6:59 AM
0 Votes
Nevada did get a D- grade in corruption and lack of transparency. Please see what Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto has to say about it. By the way, Ben's video was excellent and the cartoons added to the spot. Pass this video to your friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4qSr3lC6_k

nubgnngs42 - 5/15/2012 2:35 PM
0 Votes
I guess the politics is to "do as I say not as I do", as they try to close the taxpayers loop holes. Maybe this is why they only "work" 4 months every 2 years. Parties and trips to "study and observe" other projects for Nevada.

hijadelsol - 5/14/2012 11:16 PM
0 Votes
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! What were the ridiculous, sensationalist, juvenile graphics you developed to accompany this story???????????? I have no idea if it was a valid issue or not, because your goofy cartoon palm trees and double-decker buses made it look like a complete joke. Seriously - do you think having your reporter stand on an elementary school playground map of the US lends credence to the story? Is that really your opinion of the intelligence of your audience? If this is the future of your news programming, count me out.
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