Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the Republican nominee for governor in Nevada, has given out tens of millions of dollars' worth of contracts from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to companies that donated to his political campaigns, according to records reviewed by the American Independent Foundation.
Since 2014, when Lombardo first ran for sheriff, at least eight donors to his campaigns have received at least $18.7 million in contracts from the LVMPD, which Lombardo oversees.
Some of the contracts have a concrete dollar amount, ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to $17 million. Other contracts are harder to quantify because they encompass ongoing work.
Among the quantifiable contracts is a pair of agreements with Motorola that amount to nearly $17.5 million over 10 years to support the LVMPD's radio systems. Motorola, which has been reported to have a pattern of lobbying law enforcement, has donated $20,000 to Lombardo since 2013, according to filings with the Nevada secretary of state's office.
Another is a 2018 contract Lombardo petitioned for that gave $606,312 to TASER International (now known as Axon), a company that makes tasers and other weapons used by law enforcement. The CEO of the company, Patrick Smith, later donated $2,500 to Lombardo's gubernatorial bid.
In December 2017, Lombardo requested a $394,000 contract for Capriati Construction for a gun range. That contract was increased in February 2018 to $473,000 due to "safety issues." The company has given $5,000 to Lombardo's campaigns.
And in 2015, the Institute For Executive Development received a $102,000 contract for consulting work. The company, which claims to provide "executive coaching, leadership development, and strategic planning" to its clients, was founded by Rick Culley, who gave $1,200 to Lombardo in late 2014.
The other contracts appear to be lucrative as well.
On May 23, 2016, Lombardo successfully sought a five-year contract for the law firm Carbajal & McNutt LLP to represent the LVMPD in "defense of liability claims and causes of action resulting in potential liability; in contract disputes; in employment actions; in bankruptcy proceedings as the Attorney's expertise and experience may allow."
The same day the contract with the law firm was approved, Lombardo received a $3,000 donation from the firm, according to filings with the Nevada secretary of state's office. To date, the law firm and its founder, Dan McNutt, have given $6,500 to Lombardo’s political campaigns.
While it's unclear how much Carbajal & McNutt has received from the LVMPD, according to the contract, the firm receives $190 per hour for work done by partners, $160 per hour for work by associates at the firm, and $90 per hour for work done by paralegals.
Another law firm, Marquis Aurbach, donated more than $12,000 to Lombardo's campaigns. The firm, which handles "open litigation" for LVMPD, had its contract renewed for three more years at Lombardo's request in 2016.
Lombardo's campaign did not comment on the contracts and political donations to Lombardo's campaigns.
Instead, campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Ray responded to a request for comment by accusing Lombardo's opponent, incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, of being "the least ethical governor in Nevada history." Ray cited a Department of Health and Human Services investigation into a COVID-19 testing company that received millions of dollars in contracts funded by Nevada taxpayers but provided faulty test results.Sisolak has not been implicated in any wrongdoing.
Lombardo won the Republican gubernatorial primary in June, defeating a large field of candidates that included Joey Gilbert, a former boxer turned trial attorney who attended the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol; and former Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican who was cold to former President Donald Trump before deciding he was a "great leader" and losing reelection in 2018 to Democrat Jacky Rosen.
Sisolak was first elected governor in 2018, defeating Republican Adam Laxalt by four points in what was then a strong year for Democrats up and down the ballot.
In 2022, however, Democrats are expected to face headwinds: Historical trends show the party in power often experiences a backlash from voters in the first midterm election year after its candidate takes the White House.
There have been few public polls of the race, but Sisolak leads Lombardo by just 1.9 points in the FiveThirtyEight average.
Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race Tilts Democratic.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.