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April 20, 2014

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Lawmakers spin through revolving door to lobbying

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

The Legislative Building is seen at the end of the first day of the 2013 legislative session Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 in Carson City.

If there’s one thing lawmakers don’t like to do to, it’s legislate themselves.

So the prospects for a bill introduced Tuesday to prohibit lawmakers from working as a lobbyist for one session after they leave office are somewhat dim.

“It’s not gonna pass anyway,” one former lawmaker-turned-lobbyist quipped about Assembly Bill 77, sponsored by Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey.

A similar bill failed last session.

Perhaps Assemblyman William Horne, who is now the Assembly majority leader, put it most bluntly in 2011: “I have a fundamental disagreement with some of my colleagues that you should prohibit someone from doing what they’re gainfully employed to do.”

But that’s just what proponents of the bill say should happen. In other words, elected officials shouldn’t be able to parlay their public service into a for-profit enterprise.

Indeed, the Legislative Building sometimes seems to have a powerful magnetic quality that continually draws people back, even after they’ve been voted out of office.

Of the 490 lobbyists registered this session, 17 have served as lawmakers.

Hickey’s bill seeks to slow that revolving door.

Their reasons for jumping into lobbying vary.

“I am the definition of the revolving door,” joked contractors lobbyist Warren Hardy, who was an assemblyman who became a lobbyist who became a senator who became a lobbyist again. “Saying I couldn’t go back to lobbying would be like saying (Sen.) Joe Hardy couldn’t got back to being a doctor.”

Of the handful of former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists interviewed by the Sun, all readily acknowledged their time in the Legislature has given them a leg up as a lobbyist.

They know the process. They know the people. They know the pitfalls.

“I don’t think I’d ever own my own independent business as a lobbyist if I hadn’t been a lawmaker first,” gaming and mining lobbyist Josh Griffin, who served one term in the Assembly, said. “Sure, it’s valuable experience for a lobbyist.”

Those interviewed focused on the knowledge of the process rather than the relationships built with lawmakers.

Sometimes those relationships come back to bite a former lawmaker-turned-lobbyist when a legislator doesn’t want to be seen as having been influenced by a former colleague.

But Hickey said he’s more worried about who a lawmaker might be serving in a final session of he or she knows a future in lobbying awaits them.

Here’s a look at the 17 registered lobbyists who have served as a lawmaker:

    • 77th session Lobbyist Ernie Adler

      Ernie Adler

      Assembly: 1987-89

      Senate: 1991-97

      Lobbying clients: Union interests, rural housing authority, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

    • 77th session Lobbyist Morse Arberry Jr.

      Morse Arberry

      Assembly: 1985-2009

      Lobbying clients: Las Vegas taxi company Frias Transportation

      Of note: Was convicted of pocketing $120,000 in campaign contributions

    • Dick Bryan

      Assembly: 1967-71

      Lobbying clients: Lionel Sawyer & Collins, one of the state’s largest lobbying firms with clients from most of Nevada’s largest business industries

    • 77th session Lobbyist Terry Care

      Terry Care

      Senate: 1999-2009

      Lobbying clients: Commercial real estate, Reno airport, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Washoe Sheriff’s Office

    • 77th session Lobbyist Pete Ernaut

      Pete Ernaut

      Assembly: 1993-97

      Lobbying clients: A partner in R&R Partners, one of the state’s largest lobbying firms representing gaming, NV Energy and other major Nevada industries

      Of note: Also worked as chief of staff to former Gov. Kenny Guinn

    • 77th session Lobbyist Helen Foley

      Helen Foley

      Senate: 1983-85

      Lobbying clients: Marriage and family therapists, Pardee Homes, Boys & Girls Club

    • 77th session Lobbyist David Goldwater

      David Goldwater

      Assembly: 1995-2003

      Lobbying clients: Mining, Google, craft brewers, Desert Cab

    • 77th session Lobbyist Josh Griffin

      Josh Griffin

      Assembly: 2003

      Lobbying clients: Mining, gaming, pharmaceuticals, subcontractors, broadcasters

      Of note: Was one of four Assembly Republicans who backed a gross receipts tax in the 2003 tax battle, resigned shortly after the special session to begin recruiting clients

    • 77th session Lobbyist Warren Hardy

      Warren Hardy

      Assembly: 1991

      Senate: 2003-09

      Lobbying clients: Builders and contractors, solar energy, restaurants

    • 77th session Lobbyist Dennis Nolan

      Dennis Nolan

      Senate: 2003-09

      Lobbying clients: Nolan & Associates

    • 77th session Lobbyist Len Nevin

      Len Nevin

      Assembly: 1983-91

      Senate: 1993

      Lobbying clients: Labor unions

    • 77th session Lobbyist Richard Perkins

      Richard Perkins

      Assembly: 1993-2005

      Lobbying clients: Mining, gaming, taxi cab companies, city of Henderson

      Of note: Former speaker of the Assembly for three sessions

    • 77th session Lobbyist Gene Porter

      Gene Porter

      Assembly: 1987-93

      Lobbying clients: Las Vegas cab and limousine company Frias Holding Co.

      Of note: Former Assembly majority leader

    • 77th session Lobbyist Scott Scherer

      Scott Scherer

      Assembly: 1991-93

      Lobbying clients: Golden Gaming, Dollar Loan Center

    • 77th session Lobbyist mark Sherwood

      Mark Sherwood

      Assembly: 2011

      Lobbying clients: March of Dimes, other nonprofits

    • 77th session Lobbyist Danny Thompson

      Danny Thompson

      Assembly: 1981-89

      Lobbying clients: Nevada State AFL-CIO

    • 77th session Lobbyist Stephanie Tyler

      Stephanie Tyler

      Senate: 1991

      Lobbying clients: AT&T

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