Joe Lombardo’s Lackluster Campaign Backed by Millions from Real Estate Mogul Who Evicted Families During the Pandemic

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A new report from the Associated Press highlights how Joe Lombardo’s weak campaign for governor is being propped up by an out-of-touch billionaire real estate mogul with a history of exploiting low-income families.

“[Robert Bigelow] was also a vocal critic of the federal eviction moratorium, calling it ‘legalized theft’ as some tenants didn’t pay rent,” AP reported, “and he filed 46 eviction actions at the height of the pandemic.”

Entities controlled by Bigelow have poured millions into Lombardo’s campaign and groups backing it. His other investments include millions spent researching UFOs and the afterlife.

Read key excerpts from the article below.

Associated Press: Hotel mogul, UFO believer spending in Nevada governor’s race


Now Bigelow, 78, has become the largest donor this cycle in Nevada’s midterm gubernatorial race, donating $5.7 million through his companies to the campaign for Nevada GOP gubernatorial nominee Joe Lombardo and to political action committees supporting him. The race has implications for inflation policy, reproductive rights and the Democrats’ hold on the Legislature.

Bigelow’s donations give a lifeline to a Republican challenger who is spending more and fundraising less than the Democratic incumbent. As of the latest filings, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak leads Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff, in cash-on-hand $10.78 million to $1.2 million, which includes direct contributions to their campaigns but does not account for donations to political action committees, which make up the bulk of Bigelow’s donations in support of Lombardo.


Bigelow has made his wealth through his extended-stay apartment chain Budget Suites of America, which he has used to fund his UFO research. He was also a vocal critic of the federal eviction moratorium, calling it “legalized theft” as some tenants didn’t pay rent, and he filed 46 eviction actions at the height of the pandemic.

Bigelow’s political and social influence in Nevada has long been pronounced, most notably in his UFO research that is now shifting toward afterlife research. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said that UFOs are “under our noses” and wondered why news organizations have not extensively covered UFO sightings.


Bigelow donated $5.5 million to PACs supporting Lombardo this cycle — $3.5 million to Better Nevada PAC, which has financed pro-Lombardo ads, and $2 million to Stronger Nevada PAC, which transferred money to Better Nevada PAC. Through 39 donations of $5,000 each through his companies, he donated $195,000 directly to the Clark County sheriff.

The Nevada contributions have provided a talking point for Sisolak, who has tied Bigelow’s support for Lombardo to the housing crisis in Nevada, referencing Bigelow’s pandemic evictions.