Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz, a Republican candidate for governor, said Thursday he will not take any campaign contributions from lobbyists and major donors because they have damaged state government by funding a “pay-to-play” mentality in Carson City.
“We’ve got to take down the ‘For Sale’ sign in Carson City and maybe I’m the person to do that,” he said Thursday on Nevada Newsmakers.
Those who make large campaign contributions to state elected officials have too much influence in government, Schwartz said.
“The pay-to-play in this state is just out of control and it is funded by lobbyists and it is funded by big donors,” Schwartz said. “Ultimately, we elect these people and the pay-to-play people get what they want from the people we elect.
“So I am going to try to take only individual money,” Schwartz said about funding his campaign. “I may take some (money) from of the trade groups. But yeah, I’m really opposed as to what goes on in this state.”
Schwartz has been highly critical of his GOP gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Adam Laxalt, for his large contributions from Las Vegas Sands chief Sheldon Adelson, reported to be the richest person in Nevada. In a July Nevada Newsmakers interview he said:
“This to me, makes me even more nervous about the attorney general: If you are in the pocket of the state’s richest citizen, what does this suggest for your administration if you’re elected governor?”
Thursday he said Nevada’s pay-to-play mentality extends far beyond Laxalt’s dealing.
“It is rampant,” he said. “I’ve seen it in the (Raiders) stadium (deal),” Schwartz said. “I’ve seen it in pay-day loan (industry), I’ve seen it on the (failed) Faraday Future (electric car plant). Everybody has their hand in the trough and people get paid to influence that.”
Schwartz, who was reported as being “independently wealthy” when he won the race for state treasurer in 2014, estimated he’ll need $1 million for a primary-election campaign and another $2 million for a general-election campaign.
“I’m willing to kick in about $500,000 on the primary so I’ve got to raise about $500,000,” he said. “And once we, hopefully, get through that, we’ll see in the general.”
Schwartz is seen as an outlier of GOP politics. He has been critical of Gov. Brian Sandoval and members of the Legislature. The governor’s office and legislative leaders have been critical of Schwartz.
“I have nothing to be ashamed of there,” Schwartz said. “I have watched Republicans who controlled both the (state) senate and assembly bob up ad down for bills that did absolutely nothing for Nevadans. I saw this on Faraday Future. I saw this on the (Raiders) stadium. I saw it on the governor’s budget. I’m not sure why I should get along with those people.”
Schwartz’s office has been a major proponent of the Education Saving Account program, which would have given parents about $6,000 a year to send children to private or parochial schools.
The bill passed the Legislature in 2015, when the GOP held the majority in both houses. It was later struck down by the state Supreme Court over its funding mechanism. Republicans tried to bring the bill back in 2017, but the Democrats had seized control of both houses and refused to consider it.
Schwartz said he will not sign any bills until he has the ESA bill on his desk, if he is elected governor.
He acknowledged that could lead to a standoff with the Legislature, since projections point to Democrats holding the majorities in both houses again in 2019.
“If elected, in my state of the state address, I will apologize to the people of Nevada for perhaps having a Legislature that is being paid to do nothing.”