Letters for August 23, 2018
Editor’s note: We received a well-researched letter from a reader. We asked county commission candidate Bob Lucey to reply for this edition.
One of the primary tasks undertaken in the process of opposition research is to determine source and amounts of the opponent’s campaign donations. This is done primarily to understand not only business interests of the donors, but the monetary “influence” pressed upon the candidate accepting those donations.
I recently reviewed Bob Lucey’s 2017-18 campaign contributions (http://nvsos.gov/). To determine business trends in this donor pool, I collated information on all the donors/donations above $150, a total of $97,750. The following groups comprised Lucey’s business donor pool: developers, general business, casinos, builders and building supplies, cannabis, lobbyists, lawyers, local government entities, real estate and utilities. Developers, real estate, builders and suppliers comprise over 60 percent; casino interests, lobbyists, lawyers and cannabis, the rest.
It’s no surprise that most Lucey donations come from developers and businesses supporting them. He and the county commissioners have responded in kind by approving a record number of housing and business developments from 2015-18.
The cannabis industry has Lucey’s interest. Benjamin Koppel of Chicago gave Lucey $5,000 in 2017 after his second (publicly disputed) marijuana dispensary was approved by the county. Good Chemistry NV, LLC and Washoe Dispensary also donated $1,000 each.
Donor lobbyists are affiliated with Marcus G Faust, a lobbying firm that focuses on counties, cities, water authorities and utility companies in Nevada and Utah; and legislation that created the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, a national monument at Tule Springs and a payments-in-lieu-of-taxes program for rural Nevada counties with federal land. Lands bill, anyone?
Academica NV LLC ($150 million in annual revenue), owned by Fernando and Ignacio Zuleta, donated $1,000 to Lucey’s campaign. Several years ago, it was reported they made large donations to lawmakers in Florida in exchange for greasing the wheels for their business. They have given $27,500 to political campaigns since 2015 (“Academica cultivates links to lawmakers,” Miami Herald, Dec. 14, 2011 and “9 investigates lawmakers’ connections with charter schools,” KFTY News, Nov. 14, 2012). In 2017, the State of Nevada approved the issuance of $31,190,000 in bonds (taxpayer money) to finance acquisition of facilities and land improvements on behalf of Academica.
Do any of these businesses support we existing Washoe residents to the degree that they support Lucey’s campaign? Will we profit as much from land development, construction, lobbyists, casinos and cannabis as these business entities will if he’s elected? What price will we residents continue to pay for ongoing uncontrolled land development if Lucey is elected? Do these businesses “count” more than the Washoe Residents who elected Lucey to represent us?
Over the last several years, Washoe County has come together and built a foundation of success and prosperity for our community. We have seen new investments by job creators, a re-priortizing of our transportation system, and tourism rebranding that has had only positive impacts on our economy. Because of these steps—and many more not listed—Washoe County is proudly reclaiming our rightful spot as the crown jewel of Nevada. I am honored to have played a role.
Yet, there is a common thread that has run through every inch of success we have seen over these last few years—trust.
Washoe County voters have trusted in their representatives to fulfill their vision of what they want our community to be. My district has entrusted me to be a sound voice of our shared conservative values and fiscal responsibility to ensure that we’re not passing along mountains of debt to our children. It is the common thread that enables our community to stand above every other throughout the state and should not be taken for granted.
I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish together but I know that we’re just getting started. As a fifth generation northern Nevadan, I have a unique connection and perspective on the issues we face. For years, I have continued to maintain and cultivate relationships within our community built on trust and dedication to building a better community, a better county, a better region for all of us. It is the greatest honor of my life to represent you, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue doing so.