Catherine Cortez Masto

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Catherine Cortez Masto
Catherine Cortez Masto2.jpg
Candidate for
U.S. Senate, Nevada
PredecessorGeorge Chanos (R)
Base salary$141,086
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 7, 2006
Next generalNovember 4, 2014 (Term-limited)
Campaign $$2,474,019
Term limitsTwo terms
Prior offices
Attorney General of Nevada
January 2007-January 2015
Bachelor'sUniversity of Nevada-Reno (1986)
J.D.Gonzaga University School of Law (1990)
Place of birthNevada
Office website
Catherine Cortez Masto is the former Attorney General of Nevada. A Democrat, Masto was first elected to this position in 2006 and re-elected on November 2, 2010.[1] Masto was term-limited from running for re-election as attorney general in 2014.

One of her first priorities after taking office in 2007 was to set up a statewide Methamphetamine Working Group to combat the use and distribution of meth in Nevada. Other major focuses during her time in office included setting up a senior protection unit to pursue abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors and strengthening laws preventing sex trafficking and violence against women.[1]

Masto previously served as an Assistant County Manager for Clark County, Nevada, was a federal criminal prosecutor for the United States Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. and was Chief of Staff to Governor Bob Miller.[2]

Masto is running for election to Nevada's U.S. Senate seat, which will be left open following Harry Reid's retirement in 2016.[3][4]


Immediately upon graduating from law school, Masto joined the Nevada State Bar Association, a membership she has cultivated for over twenty years now. Her initial steps onto the Nevada political stage came when she received the position of Southern District Director for then-Governor Bob Miller. Three years later she was appointed Miller's Chief of Staff while simultaneously operating as an assistant to the United States Attorney General. Her employment in both of these roles ended in 2002. That same year, Masto began her work as Assistant County Manager for Clark County helping to improve child services and developing the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.[1]


  • Bachelor's degree, University of Nevada-Reno (1986) in finance
  • Juris Doctorate degree, Gonzaga University School of Law (1990)[1]

Political Career

Attorney General (2007-2015)

In January 2007, Catherine Cortez Masto began serving her first term as Nevada’s Attorney General after winning more votes than any other statewide candidate.[1]


Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act

On March 11, 2013, Masto, together with twelve other state attorneys general, sent a letter to Congress in support of the Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act, a bill which would ban for-profit colleges from using federal funds for marketing and recruiting techniques.[5] Sponsored by Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), who chairs the chamber's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, the law aims to “ensure that scarce federal education dollars will be used to serve and educate students rather than to finance advertising campaigns, recruitment operations, and aggressive marketing.”[6] Consumer protection is one of the key duties assigned to the attorney general in each state.

According to the law's text, student enrollment at for-profit degree-issuing institutions such as the University of Phoenix more than doubled between 1998-2008, during which time the federal government--through student financial assistance programs--provided 86 percent of revenues to 15 reviewed publicly traded companies operating these for-profit colleges. A separate analysis of 15 such companies concluded that, on average, 28 percent of all expenditures were on advertising, marketing, and recruiting. Critics, including the attorneys general responsible for the letter advocating the bill's passage, contend that these expenditures are used to deceive consumers about program costs, graduation rates, or their employment potential beyond graduation. The bill seeks to restrict spending of this nature by higher education institutions or other postsecondary educational institution by prohibiting use of federal loans or grants in specific areas, and requiring that all such institutions whose revenues can be traced to federal educational assistance funds "report annually to the Secretary and to Congress the institution's expenditures on advertising, marketing, and recruiting."[5]

In the letter, the attorneys general urged, “Federal taxpayers should not be asked to foot the bill for aggressive recruiting and deceptive sales tactics of colleges that have placed profits ahead of ensuring student success.”[7] There are an estimated 3,000 for-profit schools nationwide, though neither the letter nor the bill cited the name of a specific institution.[8]

Healthcare reform
See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

Republican Governor Jim Gibbons, in a letter dated the day after President Barack Obama signed into law the controversial health care overhaul bill, urged Catherine Cortez Masto to join other state attorneys general in filing suit against the federal legislation, arguing that "if there was ever an appropriate time for a governor of this State to request a suit be commenced on behalf of the State of Nevada, this is that time." Health and welfare officials statewide estimated that Medicaid requirement in the bill alone would cost Nevada an additional $613 million by the year 2019. In response, however, the Nevada Attorney General insinuated that she was unwilling to do so, stating that "if this office institutes litigation against the Federal Government, that lawsuit will have a solid basis in law and will be able to withstand the scrutiny of a federal court."[9]

About a week later, Masto came out staunchly against the idea of filing suit against the federal government, insisting that the "authority given to Congress is extensive and appears strong enough to support the act.” Gibbons, arguably upset with the state's top law enforcer's decision, said, in response, that he would consider his options on whether or not to move forward with the litigation on his own.[10]



Masto was accused in December 2008 in the state audit released by the Nevada Legislature of "writing off as bad debts money owed to the state, something she had no authority to do." According to Nevada State Statutes, only the Board of Examiners has the authority to approve such actions. And while the Attorney General is a member of that board, she is only one of three and cannot make unilateral decisions concerning monetary matters on her own. No concrete figure was cited "because of the difficulty auditors had in tracking funds through various accounting systems and spreadsheets," but some have cited the number may have been in the thousands.[11]

Lt. Governor fundraiser

In late-November 2009, Masto came under fire for reportedly playing politics with her state governmental office. Her husband, Paul Masto, a special agent in the United States Secret Service, hosted "a $1,000 per person fundraiser for a Democrat candidate for Lt. Governor – just four days before the Attorney General was scheduled to begin prosecuting the sitting Lt. Governor for following the advice of the Attorney General’s office." Although she eventually canceled the event, about a week later another invitation with the "same location and time, same invitation format and font, same colors, even the same photo and quote from" Robert Randozzo, Masto's choice for Lieutenant Governor.[12] The only differences were the date of the event and the quote from her husband, which was replaced with one of the Attorney General's major donors.



See also: United States Senate election in Nevada, 2016

Masto is running in the 2016 election for the U.S. Senate, to represent Nevada. The seat will be open following Harry Reid's retirement.[3] The general election will take place November 8, 2016.


See also: Nevada gubernatorial election, 2014

Masto was term limited from running for re-election as attorney general in 2014. She had been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor and lieutenant governor.[13] In June 2013, she stated, "I am definitely not running for lieutenant governor," and in September she told the Las Vegas Sun that she would not be running for governor either in the 2014 elections.[14] Masto said she wanted to finish out her term as attorney general and then focus on what the future may bring for her political career.[15]


See also: Nevada Attorney General election, 2010
  • 2010 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary
  • Catherine Cortez Masto ran unopposed in this contest
2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election[16]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Catherine Cortez Masto 52.8%
     Republican Party Travis Barrick 35.7%
     American Independent Party Joel F. Hansen 7.8%
     None of these candidates 3.7%
Total Votes 704,332


  • 2006 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary
  • Catherine Cortez Masto ran unopposed in this contest
2006 Race for Attorney General - General Election[17]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Catherine Cortez Masto 52.8%
     Republican Party Don Chairez 35.6%
     Write-In 5.3%
Total Votes 574,975

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Masto is available dating back to 2006. Based on available campaign finance records, Masto raised a total of $2,474,019 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 23, 2013.[18]

Catherine Cortez Masto's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 NV Attorney General Not up for election $136,080
2010 NV Attorney General Won $654,848
2008 NV Attorney General Not up for election $29,119
2006 NV Attorney General Won $1,653,972
Grand Total Raised $2,474,019


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Catherine Cortez Masto's donors each year.[19] Click [show] for more information.

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Contact Information


Capitol Address:
Office of the Attorney General
Carson City Office
100 North Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701-4717

Phone: (775) 684-1100
Fax: (775) 684-1108

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Nevada Attorney General, "Meet the Attorney General" accessed November 1, 2012 (dead link)
  2. National Association of Attorneys General, "Catherine Cortez Masto (D)," accessed August 19, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gravis Marketing, "Nevada poll: Sandoval early favorite to succeed Reid; Cruz surges to lead pack with Walker," March 31, 2015
  4. Reno Gazette-Journal, "Cortez Masto will run for Reid's Senate seat", April 8, 2015
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Library of Congress, "Bill Text 113th Congress (2013-2014) S.528.IS," March 12, 2013
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named agsletter
  7. The Boston Globe, "Attorney generals to Congress: Don’t let for-profit colleges use federal grants and loans for advertising," March 17, 2013
  8. Commonwealth of Kentucky Office of the Attorney General, "Letter to Congress," March 11, 2013
  9. Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Nevada attorney general urged to fight health bill" 24 March, 2010
  10. Las Vegas Sun, "AG won’t file health reform suit; Gibbons vows to stop ‘intrusion’" 1 April, 2010
  11. News Review, "Cortez Masto audited" 25 Dec. 2008
  12. Desert Conservative, "How Dumb Do They Think You Are?" 3 Dec. 2009 (dead link)
  13. Las Vegas Review Journal, "Nevada voters will watch political musical chairs in coming elections," November 11, 2012
  14. Ralston Reports, "Cortez Masto won't run for LG, likely won't be on ballot in 2014," June 12, 2013
  15. Las Vegas Sun, Cortez Masto: I’m not running for governor, September 19, 2013
  16. Nevada Secretary of State - 2010 General Election Results
  17. Nevada Secretary of State Secretary of State - 2006 General Election Results
  18. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Catherine Cortez Masto," accessed May 23, 2013
  19. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015

Political offices
Preceded by
George Chanos (R)
Nevada Attorney General
Succeeded by
Adam Paul Laxalt (R)