Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2014

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Two lawmakers stay atop ‘freebies’ list

CARSON CITY -- For two straight sessions, Sens. Ray Shaffer, D-North Las Vegas, and Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, have led the pack in accepting free meals, gifts and other gratuities from lobbyists.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau released its lobbyist expenditure report Tuesday, revealing $23,166 was spent by the 667 registered lobbyists in entertaining the 63 lawmakers during the six-month legislative session.

That's down from the $68,750 spent in 1995 and $303,143 in 1993. A law went into effect in 1995 that lobbyists had to identify the legislators they were spending money on.

In 1995, Shaffer accepted $1,241 in free meals, gifts and other entertainment, while Schneider, then in the Assembly, rang up a lobbyist tab of $1,065.

This session, Shaffer was tops at accepting $1,625 worth of freebies followed by Schneider at $915. In third was Sen. Jack Regan, D-North Las Vegas, at $708 followed by Assemblyman Bob Price, D-North Las Vegas, at $628 and Sen. Kathy Augustine, R-Las Vegas, at $567.

Other leaders in the Assembly accepting free meals and gifts from lobbyists were Sandra Tiffany, R-Henderson, at $566; Speaker Joe Dini, D-Yerington, at $564; Majority Leader Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, at $530; and Vonne Chowning, D-North Las Vegas, at $524.

Among those doling out the complimentaries is Vicki Riley, who represents the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association. Riley shelled out the most money during the 1997 session for a total of $1,024 -- $700 of which went to sponsor the Marvin Sedway Memorial Bagel Breakfast. The event attracted not only legislators, but other lobbyists, staff and the media.

James Avance of Jackpot Enterprises, a slot machine company, was the second biggest spender at $972. He spent $310 for an end-of-session party.

The report also showed that eight lawmakers did not accept any meals, gifts or entertainment tickets from lobbyists.

They were Sens. Bernice Mathews, D-Reno; Bill O'Donnell, R-Las Vegas; Jon Porter, R-Boulder City; Randolph Townsend, R-Reno; Maurice Washington, R-Reno; Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas; and Assembly members John Lee, D-Las Vegas, and Kathy Von Tobel, R-Las Vegas.

Not included in this report is the money spent by lobbyists working for the University and Community College System of Nevada. They did not have to register and report their expenditures.

For instance, Assemblywoman Sandi Krenzer, D-Las Vegas, received $487 from lobbyists in free meals, etc. But she also was treated to 11 lunches or dinners by UNLV lobbyist Rick Bennett, which was not included on the final report.

Assemblyman Morse Arberry Jr., D-Las Vegas, received $385 in meals and gifts from registered lobbyists. But Bennett took him eight times to dinner or lunch for an additional $150. Arberry also accepted tickets to two UNLV basketball games and a U2 concert at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Von Tobel, who did not accept any free meals during the session, received a ticket to the National Finals Rodeo from the university before the session.

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