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July 30, 2014

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Clark County hires lobbyist

Clark County picked a lobbyist today. The winner: Dan Hart & Associates.

Commissioners voted 4-3 in favor of hiring Hart, a political consultant who has worked on the campaigns of Commission Chairman Rory Reid and Commissioner Chip Maxfield. He also lobbies for the state teachers' union.

Hart will represent the county in Carson City, where some state officials including Gov. Jim Gibbons have said fixing the state budget crunch might involve diverting tax revenue from local governments.

Reid argued that Hart could best help the county come up with a strategy for the 2009 legislative session.

"He has the gravitas to help us play defense and close deals," Reid said.

The vote came after Reid and Maxfield disclosed that Hart had worked on their campaigns.

That didn't stop Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani from taking a jab.

"Just because you are good at running campaigns doesn't make you a good lobbyist," she said.

Giunchigliani said the county should rely on its in-house staff and commissioners to do its lobbying.

Commissioner Tom Collins wanted to wait to hire a lobbyist until closer to the 2009 legislative session, when the county would have a better idea about which issues will be relevant.

Commissioner Lawrence Weekly joined Collins and Giunchigliani in voting against Hart.

Commissioners Bruce Woodbury and Susan Brager sided with Reid and Maxfield to push Hart over the top.

Hart beat out four other firms: Ferrari Smith Public Affairs, Hale Lane, Sagebrush Nevada Group, and McMillan and Minnear Consulting Services.

During last year's legislative session, a conflict of interest for its lobbyists left Clark County without much of a voice on a key issue.

Lobbying duo Tim Crowley and Josh Griffin represented both the county and gaming giant MGM Mirage, which became a problem when lawmakers dealt with a bill to reduce tax breaks for environmentally friendly construction projects.

The county wanted to cut the tax incentives, but MGM Mirage wanted as much of a tax break as possible. The conflict left Griffin and Crowley more or less sidelined as advocates for the county on the high-profile issue.

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