As of 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 18, the filing period for candidates for various state and local offices is now closed. This means that we have a good snapshot of who is in – and out – of which race. As in years past, NAIOP Southern Nevada will be focused on some of the local government races (only Clark County Commission has seats up in 2016), Assembly and State Senate races, as well as keeping an eye on congressional races.
With the campaign season comes calls for funds and invitations to fund-raisers. Every campaign cycle without fail, someone always asks, “What do we get for our contribution dollars,” or even more crudely put, “What does my contribution buy?” In short, and in reality, it “buys” nothing. If you think you are “buying” something with a couple hundred dollars or even more, keep your money in the bank.
If a candidate happened along who gave the impression that a contribution would give us any sort of preferential treatment, I would be inclined to report that candidate to the State Ethics Commission. We don’t buy people and we don’t buy votes.
What we do, and what our contributions do, is help support those incumbents who have had an open door to us in the past and who have been willing to consider our position as they work their way toward a vote. We support new candidates who, through their education or work history, may have a good understanding of our issues. At times, we’ll recommend contributions based on the request of leaders in the legislative body as they work to support key candidates. We may also support the leadership political action committees on both sides of the political aisle and in both houses; Assembly and Senate. These contributions help those in leadership maintain their leadership posts.
What we also do, when we meet and get to know candidates, is use that time as an educational opportunity to let them know our areas of interest and hot buttons. We want them to see us as a resource in the event they receive questions from constituents or need information on a critical vote. They won’t always vote our way and it is unreasonable for anyone to expect that. But what we do expect and should demand is open communication and honesty. They expect and deserve that of us as well.
By opening our minds and our doors to legislators and candidates, and they to us, we work to build mutual trust. That’s Lobbying 101.
Susan L. Fisher
Vice President, Government Affairs Group
McDonald Carano Wilson, LLP