Trump-Backed Adam Laxalt's Lengthy List of Financial Scandals

Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt is receiving a visit Friday from the party's most influential member as he pushes toward a November election despite past financial controversies.

Former President Donald Trump is hitting the campaign trail in Las Vegas to stump for Laxalt, the former attorney general of Nevada, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo. Laxalt has been endorsed by Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. as he looks to flip a blue seat red when he faces off against current Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto.

Laxalt, who served as the state's attorney general from 2015 to 2019 and who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018, was a co-chairman of Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.

During his time in office, Laxalt faced allegations of pressuring officials, using his position as attorney general to fend off investigators, and accepting illegal campaign contributions from Lev Parnas—who was tried and ultimately convicted in October 2021 of federal campaign finance crimes. On June 29, Parnas was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Politico reported that during Parnas' trial, Laxalt—who received two $5,000 donations from co-defendant Igor Fruman that had allegedly been arranged by Parnas—testified that he first met Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2018 in the company of Rudy Guiliani, one of the former president's attorneys.

After reportedly "really bombarding" Parnas for donations, according to Politico, Laxalt testified that legal counsel suggested his campaign return the $10,000, and the money was returned to the Treasury. However, Parnas' attorney, Joseph Bondy, reportedly said Laxalt continually pushed Parnas for cash even though he thought of him in a "clownish" manner—adding that Laxalt told the FBI that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was the individual who connected Laxalt and Parnas originally.

Adam Laxalt Past Controversies
Former Nevada attorney general and GOP Senate candidate Adam Laxalt looks to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, in November. Above, Laxalt speaks to a crowd at a primary election event on June 14 in Reno, Nevada. Trevor Bexon/Getty Images

In 2018, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported that then-Attorney General Laxalt allegedly kept fraud investigators at bay from some of his largest financial backers in relation to a large investigation into ExxonMobil and the effects of climate change.

Billionaires Charles and David Koch, who reportedly spent $2.5 million to support Laxalt's run for governor, were also involved via a subpoena issued to ExxonMobil that named several Koch-backed organizations, the Gazette-Journal added.

But Laxalt's campaign at the time called the allegations a political probe, with a spokesperson saying Laxalt "has a strong record of protecting Nevada's natural resources and zealously protecting the integrity and public perception of the Office of the Attorney General."

The allegations as they related to the Koch brothers were never directly addressed.

One year earlier, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Laxalt was being investigated for allegedly coercing a gaming regulator in a recorded conversation related to a lawsuit involving mega donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

In response, Laxalt reportedly said coercion did not take place in the conversation and that there had been past conflict between attorneys general and gaming regulators. The FBI ultimately found no wrongdoing, saying Laxalt's conversation was within the scope of his position.

"From day one, he has been consistent about his role and level of participation, and it is clear that this inquiry was politically motivated and based on rumor and innuendo, instead of facts and truth," the Attorney General's Office said in a statement in 2017.

On August 17, 2021, Laxalt declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. In a campaign statement upon his entry into the race, the Navy veteran who served in Iraq said his platform aims to dethrone the "the radical left, rich elites, woke corporations, academia, Hollywood, and the media"—all of whom he claims are "taking over America."

In June, polling and news analysis site FiveThirtyEight reported a 4.3 percent edge to Cortez Masto, adding that Nevada has a 2.5-point lean in favor of Republicans compared with the rest of the country.

A more recent presidential approval tracking poll from July 1 showed that 60 percent of Nevada's registered voters disapproved of President Joe Biden's handling of his job, with just 30 percent of voters expressing approval and 10 percent neutral mere months away from the midterms.

Newsweek reached out to Laxalt's campaign for comment.