Nevada Gets 'F' For Campaign Finance Disclosure

The Campaign Finance Disclosure Project has given Nevada its third straight failing grade because of weak campaign finance laws and practices.

In a report released Wednesday, the group ranked Nevada 44th among the states because disclosure weaknesses such as a lack of searchable databases of campaign contributions and expenditures.

The Nevada secretary of state's Web site provides scanned images of disclosure reports, although some are handwritten and none of the data can be easily sorted by computer programs, the group said.

Nevada's disclosure law ranks in the bottom five nationally, the report says, noting that candidates must report contributors who give more than $100 but the contributor's occupation, employer and funding total don't have to be disclosed.

The secretary of state's office maintains a voluntary electronic filing program for candidates, but only a fifth of the state's candidates use the system.

While that's low, the report notes it's an improvement since a 2005 assessment which showed only 1 percent of candidates used the option.

The overall failing grade was based on "F" grades in campaign disclosure laws, electronic filing programs and content accessibility, and a "D" in a fourth category, online usability.

The report's authors say Nevada was among 14 states that failed to meet its criteria for a satisfactory campaign disclosure program.

Thirty-six states got passing grades, up from 34 two years ago.

Nevada lawmakers have made gradual improvements to campaign finance reporting standards over the years, but have failed to provide funding for major changes such as a searchable electronic database that would make it simple for people to see a candidate's source of campaign dollars.

The latest improvement, in the 2007 session, was a law that requires groups advocating for initiatives or referenda to make campaign finance disclosures to the secretary of state.

Several other Western states got high marks in the Campaign Disclosure Project report, including Washington which, for the fourth time, had the top overall ranking and the only "A" grade.

The project is a collaboration of the UCLA School of Law, the Center for Governmental Studies and the California Voter Foundation.

Financial support comes from The Pew Charitable Trusts.