Nevada’s Republican nominee in what will likely be one of the closest Senate midterm elections has close ties to a “shoot now pay later” gun financier under congressional scrutiny for its ties to major mass shootings.
The 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that left 60 people dead looms large over the election. The Republican candidate, Adam Laxalt, formerly the state’s attorney general, is challenging sitting Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who co-sponsored the background check law passed by Congress in the wake of the Uvalde shooting. Laxalt opposed that legislation.
If Laxalt wins, he could be in a prime position to help counter growing congressional scrutiny of aggressive “shoot now pay later” financing schemes that critics say are targeting young people and making it easier to quickly purchase guns.
After Nevadans passed a ballot measure in 2016 requiring background checks for gun purchases, then-attorney general Laxalt, who had opposed the ballot measure, argued he didn’t have the authority to enforce the law. In 2019, the legislature passed a law mirroring the unenforced ballot measure.
After he left the attorney general’s office, Laxalt was paid millions working as a lawyer for one of the National Rifle Association’s primary law firms, Cooper & Kirk, between 2019 and 2021. Laxalt has touted his endorsement from the National Rifle Association in his Senate campaign.
But federal records reviewed by The Lever suggest these public efforts aren’t where Laxalt’s relationship with the gun industry ends. He has received the maximum individual contribution — $2,900 — for each of the past two years from the CEO of fintech firm Credova Financial, which has pioneered the “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) gun purchasing agreements.
Credova CEO Dusty Wunderlich hasn’t donated to any other federal candidates this election cycle. And his business partner, Samuel Paul, has only made one federal donation this cycle — in the form of a $2,900 maxed-out contribution to Laxalt.
Since Wunderlich joined Credova in 2021, the firm has begun advertising its BNPL financing for gun sales.
That includes a partnership with the gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, which sells semi-automatic weapons to civilians, as well as automatic weapons to the military. Daniel Defense firearms were used by the 2017 Las Vegas shooter and the 2022 shooter at Robbs Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.
Daniel Defense has used aggressive advertising tactics, including advertising its BNPL offerings with Credova. “Daniel Defense is basically the poster child of this egregious, aggressive marketing,” Ryan Busse, a former executive at the gun company Kimber who is now an industry critic, told the New York Times.
In the weeks following the Uvalde shooting, Daniel Defense’s website featured both a condolence message and a promotion to enter a $15,000 sweepstakes prize for people who made a purchase using Credova’s buy now, pay later financing.
Daniel Defense has declined to say whether such a financing agreement was used by the Uvalde shooter to purchase his gun. Credova denied financing the purchase, when asked by Businessweek.
In an August letter to Wunderlich, 18 Democratic lawmakers expressed “strong concern” about Credova offering buy now, pay later financing options for guns. “While other major BNPL providers explicitly prohibit firearm purchases, Credova has apparently sought to partner with gun merchants to aggressively advertise its BNPL product as a payment option for gun purchases, increasing the apparent affordability of firearms to consumers,” noted the letter.
According to the letter, Credova retail partners have used crude messaging to promote their relationships with the firm.
“As advertised by grabagun.com, a consumer can select Credova financing in order to ‘Shoot Now Pay Later,’” the letter says. “The danieldefense.com website appropriates Credova’s own marketing slogan to advertise that consumers can ‘Adventure Now, Pay Later.’”
The lawmakers asked Wunderlich to reply to 15 questions by September 26, including, “Is Credova aware of whether Credova’s financing was used to acquire firearms used during recent high profile mass shootings in the commission of violent crimes, including mass shootings such as the Uvalde, TX shooting and Highland Park, IL shooting?”
In 2018, Wunderlich endorsed Laxalt’s gubernatorial campaign in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper. The letter said that Laxalt “has built an impressive record of defending liberty” as attorney general and “defended our Second Amendment rights.”
Wunderlich donated to Laxalt’s statewide campaigns in 2015, 2016, and 2018.Laxalt’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier this month, on the fifth anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, he tweeted, “We pray today for those lost, as well as for those they left behind.”