Updated financial disclosures filed earlier this month show Republican U.S. Senate candidate and former attorney general Adam Laxalt was paid more than $1.5 million in calendar year 2022 by a high-profile Washington, D.C., law firm, though his continued employment status with the firm remains unclear.
The new report follows an initial disclosure from last year that showed Laxalt was paid more than $2.2 million by the firm, Cooper & Kirk, after briefly exiting electoral politics in the wake of his 2018 loss in the race for governor.
A portion of the disclosure lists Laxalt’s role as a partner as running from March 2019 through the present, though a separate portion lists the firm as a “former employer” and Laxalt is not listed among the firm’s partners online.
However, recent disclosures on the right-wing news website Breitbart — a client of Cooper & Kirk’s — still describe Laxalt as a partner in stories that name him, and add that Laxalt is “not actively engaged or working on any matters for Breitbart News.”
A spokesman for Laxalt’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment to clarify his employment status, and a request for comment from Cooper & Kirk was not returned before publication.
The new filing follows an initial disclosure last December that also showed Laxalt employed as outside counsel for the right-leaning watchdog group Americans for Public Trust.
The clients listed by Laxalt on the new report remain the same as his initial filing, including Breitbart, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, a timeshare company called Starpoint Resort Group, a hedge fund called the Baupost Group, and Appriss Inc., a technology company that developed a victim notification service adopted in Nevada when Laxalt was attorney general.
The disclosure also shows that Laxalt owns between $1,000 and $15,000 in stock in both the Chinese technology company Tencent and internet retailer Alibaba. The two companies, alongside Chinese tech giant Baidu, were nearly classified as military companies by the Trump administration amid reports they were engaged in espionage and central to the Chinese government’s surveillance apparatus.
The classification would have subject the companies to an investment ban — a plan that was scrapped just days before Trump left office. But it followed an earlier effort by his administration to ban the app WeChat, owned by Tencent, in 2020, under allegations that the app would allow the Chinese government to spy on Chinese nationals inside the U.S.
That ban, as well as another on the app TikTok, were formally dropped by the Biden administration and replaced with formal national security reviews last June.
Laxalt’s opponent in the Republican primary, Sam Brown, reported a six-figure salary of $224,000 from self-employed income from his company, Palisade Strategies, which provides medication to veterans. Brown also reported several thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrency holdings, including between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of Ether, and between $1,000 and $15,000 worth each of Bitcoin, Zcash, Chainlink and Litecoin.
Incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto was granted a 90-day extension on her financial disclosure, which is now due no later than Aug. 15.
Her last report, filed in August 2021 and covering the calendar year 2020, showed less than $1,000 in salary for her spouse from the company Universal Security Specialists in Las Vegas. It also showed several financial holdings, including between $1 million and $5 million in the bank, and at least several hundred thousand dollars distributed between a number of index investment funds.
— Jacob Solis
A quick note on straw polls
Straw polls conducted of attendees at events are, by their very nature, extremely unscientific, lacking the rigor provided by random sampling used in public polling. However, they are not entirely without merit, especially as straw polls within both the state and county GOP gatherings have shown continued rifts between candidate preferences of hardcore party activists and the much larger group of likely voters.
To wit, a straw poll of 250 attendees of the Clark County Republican Party’s Lincoln-Douglass (not a typo) brunch last week showed Sam Brown with a commanding lead in the Senate race, up 42 percent to second-place Sharelle Mendenhall’s 32 percent. Laxalt lagged behind the field with just 21 percent, followed by 5 percent for the rest or none-of-the-above.
Similarly, in the governor’s race, Joey Gilbert wielded an even larger lead over the Republican field, leading second-place Guy Nohra 61 percent to 29 percent (public polling leader Joe Lombardo sat in a far-away third place at 5 percent).
The numbers are a far cry from the scientific data — where Laxalt leads with between 45 percent and 50 percent of the vote while Brown trails (and where Mendenhall has yet to crack the low-single digits).
However, they add to a growing number of anecdotal polls in which the odds-on election favorites, Laxalt and Lombardo, have failed to capture support among party activists — as was the case when the state GOP voted to endorse Brown but not Laxalt.
Editor’s Note: This story appears in Indy 2022, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2022 election. Sign up for the newsletter here.