Nothing to report, nothing to hide? | NevadaAppeal.com

Nothing to report, nothing to hide?

Nevada Appeal editorial board

If the “People for a Better Nevada” have nothing to hide, then why aren’t they making public their campaign contributions?

Maybe it’s because they’re lawyers.

People for a Better Nevada is the group pushing two November ballot issues – Questions 4 and 5 – although it is not registered as either a political action committee or a ballot advocacy group.

Instead, it is channeling its political work through a political action committee called “Yes on Questions 4 & 5” that reported spending $326,989 to get petitions circulated and issues on the ballot – without raising a single cent.

All of the contributions, according to its report with the Secretary of State’s Office, came from in-kind donations from People for a Better Nevada. (In-kind contributions aren’t cash; they’re the value of services provided.)

This, as we non-lawyer types like to say, is a loophole big enough to drive a garbage truck through.

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But it’s not really a loophole at all. Nevada law clearly requires any group advocating for or against a ballot question to file as a political action committee and disclose its finances. People for a Better Nevada meets that criteria, and the Nevada State Medical Association has filed a formal complaint with the secretary of state.

The medical association, by the way, lists its major contributor as “Keep Our Doctors in Nevada.” That group, in turn, has filed a 34-page report listing contributions from dozens of doctors, clinics, insurance companies and medical groups.

It may be a poorly kept secret that “Yes on Questions 4 & 5” and People for a Better Nevada are being funded by the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association. But the purpose of the law is to list exactly who is contributing in black and white.

The Secretary of State’s Office should quickly order “Yes on Questions 4 & 5” to fix the deficiencies in its campaign report. And voters should wonder what the lawyers were trying to accomplish by failing to provide that information up front.