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Securing Whose Future? Dark Money Group Launches Last Minute Attack on Energy Bill

Energy has been a defining issue for the 79th Session of the Nevada Legislature from the start. In these final days, several renewable energy bills have been moving towards Governor Brian Sandoval’s (R) desk. But now, a shadowy conservative outfit is trying to defeat a key bill to update Nevada’s renewable energy portfolio.

Who are these people? And what are they trying to accomplish?

AB 206 is the bill to update Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% renewable energy by 2030. Assembly Member Chris Brooks (D-Las Vegas) struggled for weeks to find the right amendment to convince wavering Democrats, fence-sitting Republicans, and various interest groups to come on board. Then last Wednesday, the newly amended AB 206 finally passed the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee on a bipartisan 11-3 vote.

Yesterday, the full Assembly passed AB 206 on a bipartisan 30-12 vote. Yet on the day before AB 206 was slated to receive its Assembly floor vote, Jon Ralston reported that a group called Secure Nevada’s Future has begun lobbying against the RPS bill.

Who and what is “Secure Nevada’s Future”?

Secure Nevada’s Future filed as a “foreign non-profit corporation” on April 13, 2017, with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office. Yet on its Facebook page, the organization claims it was founded in May 2011. The organization posted an ad seeking community organizers on Craigslist just last Tuesday.

When did this organization actually form? Whatever the reason for the odd date discrepancies, it isn’t due to lack of proper legal counsel. The registered agent listed with the Secretary of State is Capitol Corporate Services, an affiliate of multinational corporate powerhouse law firm Duane Morris. Not only is Duane Morris famous in corporate legal circles, but it also has a PAC that donates heavily to Democratic and Republican politicians across the nation.

Who are these right-wing power players, and what do they want to “secure”?

Secure Nevada’s Future is led by Chris Young, the former Republican National Committee (RNC) Field Director. He served under none other than (then) RNC Political Director Chris Carr. And neither is a stranger to the Nevada Republican Party.

Young worked on Team Nevada, the “shadow Republican Party” set up by the RNC and Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential Campaign to circumvent the actual Nevada Republican Party that had been conquered by Ron Paul supporters. Team Nevada is most notorious for utilizing the services of Nathan Sproul, the infamous Republican operative who encouraged his workers to alter voter registration forms, sometimes even throwing valid registration forms in the trash. After multiple media outlets revealed Sproul’s return to Nevada and other swing states, Team Nevada and the RNC overall were forced to cancel their contract with Nathan Sproul in October 2012.

And who’s forking out the big bucks to “secure” what agenda?

Here’s where the plot really thickens. Chris Carr led Engage Nevada, the “shadow Republican Party” that took over from Team Nevada in 2013. Engage Nevada was bankrolled by Restore Our Future, a Republican Super PAC that took money from a foreign owned corporation, billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson… And Nevada’s own Republican mega-donor, Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson.

The Nevada Secretary of State’s office lists Robert Uithoven as the President and Treasurer of Engage Nevada, Inc. He’s now a registered lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands at the Nevada Legislature. Meanwhile, Chris Carr now serves as a registered lobbyist for Wynn Resorts.

Here’s where everything comes full circle.

In April, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts startled renewable energy advocates when their lobbyists testified against AB 206. Despite their earlier statements in support of climate action and stronger renewable portfolio standards, Sands and Wynn came out against AB 206… And have very close ties to Secure Nevada’s Future, the new conservative dark money outfit that’s trying to sink the bill in the final days of this legislative session.

At the same time, the Nevada Republican Party just recently sent an email opposing AB 206.

Screenshot Captured by Andrew Davey
Screenshot Captured by Andrew Davey

So whose future is this organization trying to secure by killing AB 206 in the final days of the legislative session? The Republican Party’s? Las Vegas Sands’? Wynn Resorts’? With this dark money organization trying to kill a key renewable energy bill, we’re left to wonder how this group is securing any part of Nevada’s future.

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