Nevada’s ubiquitous lobby: the mining industry

by Brian Bahouth

Sign on the Nevada Mining Association office in Reno - image - Brian Bahouth

Reno – The 80th session of the Nevada State Legislature is more than half over, and as we review campaign finance records looking for undue corporate influence while elected representatives cast votes, we see mining industry donations on almost every page of contribution forms. When we looked more closely, our analysis revealed a robust and long-standing spending effort by a small number of entities to influence every aspect of the lawmaking process in Nevada from elections and the legislature to the media.

Eight out of 63 seated Nevada state lawmakers did not accept campaign contributions from the mining industry. Of those who show no record of mining donations over the most recent election cycle, 6 were appointees and did not wage costly campaigns to win their seats.  Of the seated Nevada lawmakers who most recently stood for election, only 2 have no record of mining industry contributions, Sparks Democrat Richard “Skip” Daly and Las Vegas Democrat Richard Carrillo, though both Daly and Carrillo accepted $1,000.00 each in 2014 from Newmont Mining.

During the latest campaign cycle, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak was the recipient of $18,500.00 from mining interests. Lt. Governor Kate Marshall accepted $16,500.00 in campaign contributions from the mining industry over the past election cycle.

At the Nevada State Legislature, the mining industry employs as many as 45 lobbyists.  Mining and other large companies help keep the revolving door for former government officials who become paid advocates spinning. Newmont Mining Corporation employs as many as seven lobbyists to include former speaker of the Assembly Richard Perkins and Mike Wilden, former chief of staff for former Governor Brian Sandoval. Alan Biaggi is the former director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and is now a lobbyist for the Nevada Mining Association (NMA).

According to the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the state’s mining industry employs more than 12,000 people at an an average annual salary of more than $80,000. Indeed we all rely heavily on mined materials to maintain our quality of life, and the Nevada state government relies on tax dollars from resource extraction companies. The accounting mechanism by which the mining industry is taxed on minerals extracted from Nevada soil was established as part of the state’s founding and remains in the state constitution today and has rarely been challenged. 

In short, mining companies in Nevada report the value of the minerals they sell along with the costs associated with removing it from the ground and making it into a form that can be sold. According to NRS 362.120, the balance between these two numbers is known as the “net proceeds of minerals” to which a 5 percent tax is applied. The tax is capped at 5 percent.

The Nevada Economic Forum is expecting $127,383,196 in mining tax revenue over the 2018-2019 biennium and another $123,367,000 over the 2020-2021 biennium.

Should mining companies doing business in Nevada pay more tax?

In February of this year, the Canadian think tank Fraser Institute released their 21st Annual Survey of Mining Companies , and according to the survey of 83 mining jurisdictions around the globe, “Nevada is the most attractive jurisdiction in the world for mining investment.”

The only challenge to the net proceeds of minerals method of taxation began during the 2011 legislative session.

Senate Joint Resolution 15 was a measure that, “proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to remove the separate tax rate and manner of assessing and distributing the tax on mines and the proceeds of mines.”

The mining industry was forced to defend the 150 year old constitutional tax provision in the context of having one of the most famously under performing and underfunded school systems in the nation, and SJR15 passed the legislature in 2011 and again in 2013 and became Ballot Question 2 on the 2014 statewide ballot.

Ballot Question 2 would have removed the 5 percent cap on the net proceeds of minerals but failed by the narrowest of margins, 49.7 percent in favor to 50.3 percent against. The exclusive tax relationship the mining industry enjoys with the state of Nevada has not been meaningfully challenged before or since Question 2.

In 2019, the mining industry has invested a total of $234,250.00 in campaign contributions in the 80th Session of the Nevada State Legislature.

An old story

From February 28, 2006 to today, Barrick has made 488 political contributions totaling $1,538,880.00. From January 4, 2007 to today, Newmont has made 389 campaign contributions totaling $1,060,400.00, and since December 18, 2006, the Nevada Mining Association has made 212 campaign contributions for a total of $546,781.39. That’s $3,146,061.39 in campaign contributions to Nevada state lawmakers since 2006.

Timing

Note the Nevada Mining Association tendency to drop a check on a candidate after they’ve won office, a donation offered in December, usually around the holidays, following an election.

Legislative reporting

Regarding the media, the NMA has given $20,000.00 to the Nevada Independent, the most active and well-resourced publication reporting on the Nevada Legislature. NMA director Dana Bennett has personally contributed $2,525.00 to the nonprofit news organization.

Data

Barrick was the leading mining industry contributor to Nevada lawmakers in the 2019 Assembly and Senate.

Image – Nevada Capital News.
Image – Nevada Capital News.

Assembly 

The mining industry has donated a total of $111,750.00 to seated members of the 2019 Nevada Assembly.

Image – Nevada Capital News.

Assemblyman Alexander Assefa – $2,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 42

Barrick $1,000.00 on 10/02/2018
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 10/24/2018

Assemblywoman Shea Backus – $1,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 37

Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 12/17/2018

Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson – $5,500.00
Majority Floor Leader
Party: Democratic
Reno, District 27

Barrick $3,000.00 on 6/07/2018
Newmont $2,500.00 on 10/24/2018

Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod – $2,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 34

Nevada Mining Association $1,000.00 on 10-8-18
Nevada Mining Association $1,000.00 on 12-03-18

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton – $2,500.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 14 

Newmont $2,500.00 on 11/02/2018

Assemblyman Richard Carrillo – $0.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 18

Assemblywoman Lesley E. Cohen – $11,500.00
Party: Democratic
Henderson, District 29

Nevada Mining Association $1,000.00 on 5-24-18
Barrick Goldstrike Mines $1,000.00 on 7-30-18
Newmont Ventures Limited $1,500.00 on 12/21/2018
Barrick $3,000.00 on 05/23/2018
Newmont $5,000.00 on 10/20/2018

Assemblyman Richard “Skip” Daly – $0.00
Party: Democratic
Sparks, District 31

Assemblywoman Beatrice Duran – $0.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 11

Assemblyman Chris Edwards – $1,000.00
Deputy Minority Whip – South
Party: Republican
Las Vegas, District 19

Barrick Gold $1,000.00 on 06/13/2018

Assemblyman John C. Ellison – $2,000.00
Co-Deputy Minority Leader – North
Party: Republican
Elko, District 33

Nevada Mining Association $1,000.00 on 03/08/2018
Nevada Mineral Exploration Coalition $1,000.00 on 05/23/2018

Assemblyman Edgar Flores – $1,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 28

Barrick Goldstrike Mines $1,000.00 on 10/06/2018

Assemblyman Jason Frierson – $14,000.00
Speaker
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 8

Nevada Mining Assoc Inc. $2,000.00 on 01/25/2018
Barrick Gold of North America $5,000.00 on 06/19/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $5,000.00 on 10/12/2018
Nevada Mining Association, Inc. PAC $2,000.00 on 12/17/2018

Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo – $1,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 21

Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. $1,000.00 on 06/01/2018

Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow – $1,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 35

Nevada Mining Association $1,000.00 12/24/2018

Assemblyman Gregory T. Hafen, II – $0.00
Party: Republican
Pahrump, 36

Assemblyman John Hambrick – $2,000.00
Party: Republican
Las Vegas, District 2

Barrick $1,000.00 on 06/07/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc. Inc PAC $1,000.00 on 10/10/2018

Assemblywoman Alexis Hansen – $3,000.00
Party: Republican
Sparks, District 32

Barrick Gold $1,000.00 on 09/07/2018
Nevada Mining Association $1,000.00 on 10/16/2018
Couer Mining $1,000.00 on 11/02/2018

Assemblywoman Melissa Hardy – $2,000.00
Party: Republican
Henderson, District 22

Barrick Gold $1,000.00 on 09/27/2018
Nevada Mining Association PAC $1,000.00 on 12/18/2018

Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui – $1,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 41

Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc $1,000.00 on 06/07/2018

Assemblyman Al Kramer – $2,000.00
Party: Republican
Carson City, District 40

Barrick $1,000.00 on 06/04/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $1,000.00 on 12/20/2018

Assemblywoman Lisa Krasner – $3,000.00
Minority Whip
Party: Republican
Reno, District 26

Barrick $1,000.00 on 06/07/2018
Nevada Mining Assn $1,000.00 on 10/13/2018
Newmont $1,000.00 on 10/15/2018

Assemblyman Glen Leavitt – $1,000.00
Party: Republican
Boulder City, District 23

Barrick $1,000.00 on 06/06/2018

Assemblywoman Susan “Susie” Martinez – $1,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 12

Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. $1,000.00 on 10/29/2018

Assemblyman William McCurdy, II – $1,000.00
Assistant Majority Whip
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 6

Barrick Gold of N. America $1,000.00 on 06/26/2018

Assemblywoman Brittney Miller – $1,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 5

Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc. $1,000.00 on 06/06/2018

Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno – $3,000.00
Assistant Majority Floor Leader
Party: Democratic
North Las Vegas, District 1

Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $1,000.00 on 06/06/2018
Nevada Mining Association $1,000.00 on 10/08/2018
Nevada Mining Association $1,000.00 on 12/17/2018

Assemblywoman Connie Munk – $2,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 4

Nevada Mining Assoc., Inc. $1,000.00 on 11/27/2018
Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc. $1,000.00 on 11/28/2018

Assemblywoman Dina Neal – $3,500.00
Party: Democratic
North Las Vegas, District 7

Barrick $1,000.00 on 07/05/2018
Newmont $1,500.00 on 10/18/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc. $1,000.00 on 12/20/2018

Assemblywoman Rochelle T. Nguyen – $0.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 34

Assemblywoman Sarah Peters – $2,000.00
Party: Democratic
Reno, District 24

Nevada Mining Assoc. $1,000.00 on 10/29/2018
Newmont $1,000.00 on 12/18/2018

Assemblyman Tom Roberts – $2,500.00
Co-Deputy Minority Leader – South
Party: Republican
Las Vegas, District 13

Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $1,000.00 on 07/02/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $1,500.00 on 12/17/2018

Assemblyman Greg Smith – $0.00
Party: Democratic
Sparks, District 30

Assemblywoman Ellen B. Spiegel – $4,000.00
Party: Democratic
Henderson, District 20

Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. $1,000.00 on 06/04/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $1,000.00 on 10/12/2018
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. $2,000.00 on 12/17/2018

Assemblywoman Heidi Swank – $5,750.00
Assistant Majority Whip
Party: Democratic
Henderson, District 16

Nevada Mining Assoc $1,000.00 on 1/18/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $1,250.00 on 1/18/2018
Barrick $1,000.00 on 10/01/2018
Newmont Mining $2,500.00 on 10/16/2018

Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson – $2,000.00
Majority Whip
Party: Democratic
North Las Vegas, District 17

Barrick $1,000.00 on 9/04/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $1,000.00 on 10/24/2018

Assemblywoman Robin L. Titus – $2,000.00
Deputy Minority Whip – North
Party: Republican
Wellington, District 38

Barrick $1,000.00 on 6/05/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $1,000.00 on 11/05/2018

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles – $3,000.00
Legislative Executive Committee Chair
Party: Republican
Reno, District 25

Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 1/24/2018
Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. $1,000.00 on 06/08/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $1,000.00 on 12/20/2018

Assemblywoman Selena Torres – $500.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 3

Nevada Mining Association,Inc. $500.00 on 10/22/2018

Assemblyman Howard Watts – $2,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 3

Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $1,000.00 on 09/30/2018
Nevada Mining Association,Inc.$1,000.00 on 10/19/2018

Assemblyman Jim Wheeler – $11,500.00
Minority Floor Leader
Party: Republican
Minden, District 39

Newmont $2,500.00 on 01/10/2018
Barrick $2,000.00 on 6/04/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc. $2,000.00 on 9/10/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $5,000.00 on 10/24/2018

Assemblyman Steve Yeager – $6,500.00
Speaker pro Tempore
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 3

Nevada Mining Association,Inc.$1,000.00 on 5/22/2018
Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $3,000.00 on 07/03/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $2,500.00 on 9/27/2018

Senate 

Nevada state senators are elected to four year terms. Data represented here is from the most recent election, either 2016 or 2018 election cycle.

The mining industry has donated $122,500.00 to seated members of the 2019 Nevada Senate.

Image – Nevada Capital News.

Senator Chris Brooks – $5,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 3

Barrick $2,000.00 on 7/20/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc. $2,000.00 on 10/12/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $1,000.00 on 10/31/2018

Senator Yvanna D. Cancela – $3,000.00
Co-Majority Whip
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 10

Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 3/16/2018
Barrick $2,000.00 on 6/6/2018

Senator Nicole J. Cannizzaro – $4,000.00
Majority Leader
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 6

Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $2,000.00 on 12/15/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $2,000.00 on 12/15/2018

Senator Moises (Mo) Denis – $5,000.00
President pro Tempore
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 2

Barrick $1,000.00 on 6/11/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $1,500.00 on 9/4/2018
Newmont $2,500.00 on 10/16/2018

Senator Marilyn Dondero Loop – $4,000.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 8

Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $2,000.00 on 7/12/2018
Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $2,000.00 on 12/31/2018

Senator Pete Goicoechea – $18,000.00
Party: Republican
Eureka, District 19

Barrick $3,000.00 on 6/13/2016
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $2,500.00 on 10/7/2016
Newmont $5,000.00 on 11/4/2016
Newmont Mining Association PAC $2,500.00 on 3/21/16
Newmont Ventures Limited $5,000.00 on 11/8/2018

Senator Scott Hammond – $7,000.00
Co-Minority Whip
Party: Republican
Las Vegas, District 18

Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 8/25/2016
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 10/5/2016
Newmont Ventures Limited $2,500.00 on 10/5/2016
Kinross Gold USA Inc. $500.00 on 11/02/2016
Barrick $2,000.00 on 11/16/2016

Senator Ira Hansen – $6,500.00
Party: Republican
Sparks, District 14

Barrick $1,000.00 on 6/5/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $2,000.00 on 10/22/2018
Newmont $2,500.00 on 11/1/2018
Coeur Mining Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 11/02/2018

Senator Joseph (Joe) P. Hardy – $4,500.00
Assistant Minority Leader
Party: Republican
Boulder City, District 12

Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. $1,000.00 on 06/14/2018
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 10/19/2018
Newmont Ventures Limited $2,500.00 on 10/31/2018

Senator Dallas Harris – $0.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 11

Senator Ben Kieckhefer – $8,000.00
Party: Republican
Reno, District 16

Barrick $1,000.00 on 6/7/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $2,000.00 on 10/19/2018
Newmont $5,000.00 on 10/23/2018

Senator James Ohrenschall – $4,500.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 21

Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. $1,000.00 on 06/4/2018
Newmont $1,500.00 on 10/31/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $2,000.00 on 12/18/2018

Senator David R. Parks – $6,500.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 7

Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $2,000.00 on 6/9/2016
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $2,000.00 on 9/27/2016
Newmont Ventures Limited $2,500.00 on 11/1/2016

Senator Keith F. Pickard – $1,500.00
Party: Republican
Henderson, District 20

Newmont Ventures Limited $1,500.00 on 12/17/2018

Senator Julia Ratti – $5,000.00
Assistant Majority Leader
Party: Democratic
Sparks, District 13

Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. $1,000.00 on 08/14/2018
Newmont $2,500.00 on 11/5/2018
Newmont $1,500.00 on 11/5/2018

Senator Melanie Scheible – $4,500.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 9

Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. $2,000.00 on 09/7/2018
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. $1,000.00 on 10/23/2018
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. $1,500.00 on 12/21/2018

Senator Heidi Seevers Gansert – $12.000.00
Co-Minority Whip
Party: Republican
Reno, District 15

Barrick $5,000.00 on 6/9/2016
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. $2,000.00 on 9/29/2016
Coeur Mining Inc. PAC $2,500.00 on 10/16/2016
Newmont $2,500.00 on 11/2/2018

Senator James A. Settelmeyer – $6,500.00
Minority Leader
Party: Republican
Minden, District 17

Barrick $1,000.00 on 5/19/2018
Barrick $1,000.00 on 6/8/2018
Newmont $2,500.00 on 10/13/2018
Coeur Mining Inc. PAC $1,000.00 on 11/5/2018
Nevada Mining Assoc $1,000.00 on 11/27/2018

Senator Pat Spearman – $7,500.00
Co-Majority Whip
Party: Democratic
North Las Vegas, District 1

Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $5,000.00 on 6/9/2016
Newmont Ventures Limited $2,500.00 on 11/1/2016

Senator Marcia L. Washington – $0.00
Party: Democratic
Las Vegas, District 4

Senator Joyce Woodhouse – $9,500.00
Chief Majority Whip
Party: Democratic
Henderson, District 5

Barrick Gold of North America, Inc. $5,000.00 on 6/3/2016
Nevada Mining Association,Inc. PAC $2,000.00 on 8/17/2016
Newmont Mining Corp. $2,500.00 on 9/15/2016