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October 21, 2014

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Emails show orchestration of pass-through contributions to Rory Reid sham PACs

Former gubernatorialcandidate Rory Reid’s campaign manager oversaw an operation last summer and fall that first erected an overall PAC that could take unlimited contributions and then created mini-PACS that would only exist temporarily to funnel that money back to the Reid campaign, emails I have obtained show.

The emails, which Team Rory submitted to the secretary of state as part of an ongoing probe, show David Cohen and several other Rory Reid operatives, including finance boss David Brooks, were involved in some of this. The SOS is now sifting though reams of information to determine what occurred and whether this was a simple circumvention of contribution limits (at least) to launder $750,000 through the 90 smaller PACs or if it broke state laws.

The emails are evidence – and illuminating, too – of what we already knew: This was a premeditated conspiracy by Team Rory to get around the $10,000 campaign contribution limits and bolster his campaign coffers at a time he thought he could win and needed to keep pace with Brian Sandoval. The evidence of the complete integration with the campaign in the emails is compelling.

The emails, which I have posted at right, show:

---Cohen made sure to get clearance for the overall PAC to accept unlimited contributions before spraying the money to smaller PACs. That PAC, the Economic Leadership PAC, was not clearly a leadership PAC, as I already have pointed out, and whose purpose was disguised in its description on documents filed with the secretary of state: “To support candidates and organizations that promote economic development and diversification” While it did give to some candidates, nearly all of its funds were used in the funneling scheme.

----Cohen was pushing the campaign’s finance expert, Joanna Paul, to form the mini-PACs, as an email on Aug. 15 shows. They set up bank accounts to write checks back to the Reid campaign – and needed only temporary checks for the PACs, which documents showed were all dissolved at the end of the year – after they had served their temporary purpose, which was to facilitate evading the limits.

---Cohen asked for $10,000 checks to be written from the Economic Leadership PAC, which he acknowledges essentially is an extension of the Reid campaign, to the smaller PACs, which also were an extension of Team Reid. Then, as the scheme worked, those temporary checks were used to funnel the cash back to Rory Reid’s campaign account.

Here’s the original story

I have reached out to Brooks and Paul to no avail.

It was a conspiracy, all right, one that went deeply into the bowels of the Rory Reid campaign. But was it legal? That will be up to Secretary of State Ross Miller and, perhaps, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

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