Press Releases

Sam Brown’s Corrupt Slush Fund Scheme is Disqualifying

Aug 14, 2023

End Citizens United (ECU) Spokesperson Bawadden Sayed released the following statement in response to a CNN report about Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sam Brown’s scam PAC:

“Sam Brown is a con artist who should be immediately disqualified. Defrauding donors of their hard-earned money to use as a personal slush fund speaks to his character and integrity. He’ll do anything to get elected–even if it means scamming the very people who place trust in him. Nevadans deserve better. We encourage the donors who he stole from to request a refund of their contributions.”

CNN: Nevada GOP Senate candidate raised money to help other candidates – the funds mostly paid down his old campaign’s debt instead

Andrew Zhang

Key points:

  • Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sam Brown created a political action committee to “help elect Republicans” but most of its funds were spent paying down debt from his failed previous campaign. The group donated less than 7% of its funds to the candidates it was set up to support, according to campaign finance records – a move one campaign finance expert likened to using the PAC as a “slush fund.”

  • Brown formed the Duty First PAC in July 2022, saying the organization would help Republicans take back Congress. A month earlier, Brown lost the Republican Senate primary to Adam Laxalt after raising an impressive $4.4 million for his upstart campaign, but his campaign was left with more than $300,000 in debt.

  • Now Brown is running again in Nevada as a top recruit of Senate Republicans.

  • A former Army captain, Brown made lofty promises when launching his PAC, Duty First.

  • Since then, the PAC raised a small amount – just $91,500 – and used the majority of their money – $55,000 – to repay debt from Brown’s failed campaign for Senate, which Brown had transferred over. Campaign finance experts told CNN this falls into a legal gray area.

  • Of the $90,000 spent so far, just $6,000 made its way to five Nevadan Republican candidates’ committees. An additional payment for $1,000 was listed as going directly to congressional candidate Mark Robertson as a contribution but lists the amount as being directly paid to the candidate at his home – not to his committee.

  • Instead, the Duty First PAC made over a dozen debt payments. A combined $23,000 was spent on website and software services used by Brown’s Senate campaign. Another $11,275 went towards paying down the failed campaign’s credit card, with an additional $3,000 spent on credit card interest fees.

  • Duty First paid off over $1,200 in credit card debt accrued at a country club near where Brown previously lived in Dallas, Texas, and ran for the state house in 2014.

  • Duty First PAC is also responsible for eventually repaying Brown $70,000 that he personally loaned his committees.

  • According to a CNN analysis of Duty First PAC’s FEC filings, of all the money raised, less than 7% went to candidates. When considering Brown’s personal loans, debt the PAC took on from Brown’s campaign, and expenditures, fewer than 2% of the PAC’s funds went towards candidates in 2022.

  • Despite this, Brown played up his PAC’s donations to candidates in interviews and in posts on social media.

  • The PAC’s donations were from grassroots donors, who typically donated $50 or less.

  • Campaign finance experts CNN spoke to said Brown marketing the Duty First PAC as a way for people to financially support conservative candidates was a “creative way” for Brown to pay off old campaign debts behind the scenes.

  • “It creates a situation where contributors to a PAC may think that PAC is doing one thing, which is supporting political candidates, when in fact what it’s doing is being used to pay off long standing debts from a previous campaign,” said Stephen Spaulding, vice president of policy at Common Cause and former advisor to an FEC commissioner.

  • “Unfortunately, Sam Brown, like too many other politicians, has given almost no money to other candidates and, instead, has used his PAC as a slush fund,” said Paul S. Ryan, executive director at Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation. “Many donors would understandably be upset if they learned their money wasn’t used to help elect other candidates like Brown – the reason they made their contributions,” he added.