Category Archives: Nevada news

Oh Heck, he’s not being very transparent

Heck Trump Hat Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) candidate for the Nevada Senate seat in this election reveres the secret ballot, and tells constituents it’s nobody’s business who he’ll vote for in the upcoming presidential election. [RGJ]  While this is an honorable position, it doesn’t answer a crucial question. Is Heck supporting Donald J. Trump?

One of the problems for down ballot candidates who are associated with a presidential contender who has insulted 282 people, places, and things during this season, is how to finesse the prospects.  There are several ways and Heck’s about to try them all.

I will vote for the candidate of my party.”  OK, however the fact that you can’t say the name out loud indicates a level of discomfort not usually a function of the  normal campaign process.

I will endorse but I will not support…”  And what on Earth might this mean? Let’s guess it means I begrudgingly offer my official endorsement for my party’s candidate but don’t expect me to defend or explain the candidate’s campaign messages, and for Heaven’s Sake don’t put me on the same stage with him.

“I endorse my party’s candidate fully…” Until he or she does something so egregious I can’t stomach it and the poll numbers are cratering?

“I cannot endorse my party’s candidate…”  Usually announced after the top of the ticket does something egregious and the poll numbers have cratered.

“I won’t tell you who I’m voting for and you can’t find out.”  True. No one will ever know, and you can pray heartily that the candidate never finds out how you voted unless you voted for him, and the candidate’s fervent supporters will never find out you didn’t vote for him, or the candidate’s detractors in your own party never find out either way.  Good luck with that, because when you finally announce how you cast your ballot no one is going to believe you.

And why should they? – you’ve been as ‘transparent’ as Donald Trump’s tax returns.

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Filed under Heck, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics

Nevada Jobs Coalition: It’s Not Your Job They Are Worried About

money If you are getting ads from or tweets by the Nevada Jobs Coalition, here’s some information you might want to have on hand.  It’s not about JOBS. It’s another of the tangled PACs managed by Chrissie Hastie, who according to the C&E report from last May 24th, is operating out of a post office box in Las Vegas.

The donors listed (those who contributed $1,000 or more) during the reporting period in 2016 are:  One Nevada PAC, New Nevada PAC; Senate Republican Leadership Conference; the McDonald Carano Wilson Government Affairs LLC; Growth and Opportunity PAC, and the Committee to Elect Paul Anderson.  Drilling down we find:

One Nevada PAC = a political action committee headed by Greg Brower, Reno, NV and the source of funding is “Brower for Nevada.” [C&E]

New Nevada PAC = a political action committee run by Kate Szafran, Las Vegas, NV which poured $50,000 into the Nevada Jobs Coalition on June 9, 2016.  [C&E]  Szafran is no stranger to Nevada politics, prior to joining October, Inc. she was affiliated with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and for the Republican Governors Association. She also served as finance director for Gov. Brian Sandoval and Senator Dean Heller. [OctInc]  The latest C&E form shows Craig Estey as a major contributor in 2016. [C&E]

The previous report for New Nevada PAC signed off by Chrissie Hastie, showed contributions from: Southwest Gas; Switch Ltd; Newmont Mining Corporation; Titlemax; One Nevada PAC; Last Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce; Boyd Gaming Corporation; Caesars Enterprise Service LLC; Davita Total Renal Care Inc.; Intuit; Leading Builders of America; Wynn Las Vegas; Wynn Resorts; MGM International, Nevada Power Company-NV Energy; Phil Ruffin; Craig Estey [C&E]

Growth and Opportunity PAC = another facet of Paul Anderson’s political operations.  Among the donors we find: Coeur Mining Inc. PAC; McDonald Carano Wilson LLC; James Oscarson for Assembly; Lars Ejemo; Century Link; Citizens for Justice, Trust; Republican State Leadership Committee; Woodbury for Assembly; Committee to Elect Artemus Ham; Committee to Elect Keith Pickard; and the Committee to Elect Paul Anderson, and the Station Casino Red Rock Resort Spa.  [C&E]

The previous C&E report for the Growth and Opportunity PAC shows contributions from: Committee to Elect Paul Anderson; Wynn Resorts; Affinity Gaming; Sunrise Healthcare Systems Good Government PAC; LVPPAM Inc; Nevada Bankers Association; Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers; NV Energy; Prime Healthcare Services- Reno; Derek Armstrong for NV Assembly; Nevada Federation for Children ATC (school privatization advocates with ties to ALEC), Nevada Home Builders Assoc PAC; Committee to Elect Artemus Ham; Committee to Elect Keith Pickard; M H Sloan; Station Casinos; Southwest Gas; Golden Entertainment; Wynn Las Vegas; MGM Resorts; Melissa Woodbury for Assembly; GOPAC Election Fund; Zuffa, Inc. Caesar’s Enterprise Services LLC; Hollard and Hart; and Creekside Investment. [C&E]

The Nevada Jobs Coalition report submitted by Chrissie Hastie on May 24, 2016 shows “contributions in excess of $1,000 totaling $182,400.00. [C&E] And, they are perfectly willing to allocate these monetary resources to various and sundry attack ads, candidate promotion; and general politicking to the tune of $137,541.21 worth of expenses. [C&E]

The Nevada Jobs Coalition is nicely named but inherently disingenuous – it’s not really ‘jobs’ they are interested in – not new jobs in the solar industry, or new jobs in infrastructure.  The coalition is a classic blend of real estate development and construction interests, bankers, and major resort operators.   It’s not “your bottom” they are primarily interested in, it’s their bottom line.

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Filed under Nevada news, Nevada politics

Tarkanian and the Company He Keeps

Tarkanian Hardy Victory Committee

Dip into the Federal Elections Commission searchable database and there are all manner of interesting relationships revealed; such as the formation of the Hardy-Tarkanian Victory Committee on July 18, 2016. (pdf) Box “5g” is checked indicating that this is a “committee collecting contributions, paying fundraising expenses and disbursing net proceeds for two or more political committees/organizations, at least one of which is an authorized committee of a federal candidate.”  And, there’s a bonus: the treasurer is a familiar personage in Nevada politics – Chrissie Hastie.  We met Hastie in a previous life as part of the Nevada Jobs Coalition:

“That’s a PAC whose resident agent is Chrissie Hastie, and which shares its address with three other, similar PACs. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the coalition is run out of the offices of November Inc., the political consulting firm run by Sandoval adviser Mike Slanker.” [Sebelius] (9/22/14)

Or, we could go back a bit further to the complaints concerning how former Congressman Jon Porter was accepting questionable donations in 2002.

Democrats cried foul when Porter’s campaign treasurer, Chrissie Hastie, wrote back to the FEC on June 5 stating that she believes the campaign is compliant because it is in the process of sorting out why the donor sent in more than the permitted amount.

Hastie stated that each of the suspect contributions was either listed as a redesignation/reattribution, or was designated as “seeking redesignation/ reattribution.” In the latter case, the amended donation description is due when the candidate files the next quarterly report.

The new quarterly report, filed Monday, does show two refunds for a total of $500 and outlines how the questioned contributions are reattributed or redesignated. [Las Vegas Sun]

However, the most interesting question may not be how Tarkanian gets tied to a PAC treasurer from the Porter Era, but why he’s the least bit interested in joint fundraising with Cresent Hardy – he of the Bundy Flap Fame.

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Filed under Nevada news, Nevada politics

Amodei Quacks Like A FLAG-waving Duck

Amodei 3

Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) doesn’t like being categorized as “anti-public land,” or more precisely lumped in with the Bundy Boys.  However, his sponsorship of legislation and other activities have him on the Anti-Public Land list:

“Amodei landed on the list for sponsoring legislation that would give the state control of 7.2 million of the approximately 58 million acres of federally controlled land in Nevada, opposition to the creation of the Basin and Range National Monument, membership in Federal Lands Action Group and a statement about the Malheur occupation.

The statement, attributed to Amodei and two other members of the action group, said the lawmakers didn’t condone the Oregon action but added, “we do understand their frustration with increasingly heavy handed federal agencies that continue to violate the rights of hardworking American farmers and ranchers.” [RGJ]

Duck looks The poor little Republican has been cast amongst the Bundys.  How did he end up bunched up with them?  First, he’s a “FLAG” member.

“Rep. Amodei is a FLAG member and introduced H.R. 1484, the Honor the Nevada Enabling Act of 1864—which would seize Nevada public land for state control. In 2015, Rep. Amodei also introduced H.R. 488, which would cripple the Antiquities Act by blocking the extension or creation of national monuments in Nevada, unless authorized by Congress. Rep. Amodei has also cosponsored four other bills aimed at curtailing the Antiquities Act and seizing public lands. In response to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Rep. Amodei signed on to a joint statement that condemned federal officials for law-breaking, rather than condemning the actions of the armed militants.” [CAP]

So, what is FLAG, and how does it relate to the Anti-Public Lands crowd?  The organization is the brain child of two Utah Representatives, Stewart and Bishop, who announced its creation on April 28, 2015.  And, the purpose?

Today, Representatives Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah) launched the Federal Land Action Group, a congressional team that will develop a legislative framework for transferring public lands to local ownership and control. […] This group will explore legal and historical background in order to determine the best congressional action needed to return these lands back to the rightful owners. We have assembled a strong team of lawmakers, and I look forward to formulating a plan that reminds the federal government it should leave the job of land management to those who know best.” [Stewart]

Who were among the first members of the FLAG group? “Other members of the Group include Representatives Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).” [Stewart]

We should assume the group means what it says.  It wants to transfer public land to local ownership and control.   Towards this end the FLAG group held its first “forum” in June 2015, and among the speakers was a representative of the “Independent Institute.”  Board members of this organization include a private equity manager, a person from Deloitte & Touche USA, a member of the Howley Management Group, the Botto Law Group, a managing director of Palliser Bay Investment Management, Reditus Revenue Solutions, Audubon Cellars and Winery, Berkeley Research Group LLC, and the former chair of Garvey International.  [II.org]  This isn’t a list that inspires one to ask if they are primarily interested in public land for the sake of conservation.

Prof. Elwood L. Miller (UNR) was on the initial panel, adding a touch of accounting expertise to the argument that the federal government is too bureaucratic and caught up in procedural questions to be a good steward of public lands.  Attorney Glade Hall added the usual federal control isn’t constitutional argument. “It is a patent absurdity to assert that such full powers of governance cover 87 percent of the land surface of a state of the Union and at the same time assert that such state has been admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the original states in every respect whatever,” Hall said.” [STGU] A sentiment echoed by the head of the Natural Resources Group, whose book on the “theft” of the environmental issue is available from the Heritage Foundation.

In short, there was nothing to remind anyone of a fact-finding operation in this inaugural panel sponsored by FLAG.  It was of, by, and for individuals who want to ultimately privatize federal lands.

It’s also interesting that the panel members offered these opinions based on personal experience, or “talking to people,” but nothing in the presentations was offered to demonstrably prove that the federal government has no authority (beyond the usual crackpot interpretations spouted by the Bundy-ites and allies) or is actually and provably incompetent to manage public lands.  The guiding assumption – however poorly demonstrated – was that the local agencies could do a better job. Period.

If anyone is still unsure of the ideology driving FLAG, please note that the Heritage Foundation and the Mercatus group aren’t the only players supporting the efforts.  There’s also the John Birch Society (They’re still around) touting the confab on Facebook.  Additionally, there’s the ever-present American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) imprimatur on the project.

One segment of ALEC testimony from a February 2016 FLAG meeting can serve as an illustration of their argument:

“Bureaucratic inflexibility and regulatory redundancy make it almost impossible for the federal government to handle the lands in its charge for optimal environmental health. Any change in strategy on how to manage the lands, such as harvesting trees on forest lands to reduce wildfire fuel loads and prevent pest infestation, can take years to adopt and implement. By the time the federal government is able to act, it is often too late.”

Examples? The argument is made that three factors are responsible for the severity of wildland fires – poor logging practices, overgrazing, and over aggressive fire control. At this juncture, we could well ask how, without regulatory control, can better logging practices be promoted throughout the region? Or, if the Bundy Bunch isn’t convinced by the Federal authorities to pay their grazing fees and not trespass on BLM lands, then how is a state with less in the way of resources supposed to take on the task? 

However, the most intriguing element of the ALEC position is this: Further, they have operated with budget shortfalls for over a decade calling into question whether they even have adequate funds to get the job done.”  At this juncture it’s appropriate to ask – and who is touting cutting the federal and state budgets?  Who, if not ALEC?  Thus, the federal government can’t do a better job because the funding has been cut, and because the funding has been cut it can’t do the job?  Circular Reasoning at its finest, looped in with the obvious cuts and shaving from state budgets.   The ultimate argument would be that neither the federal government nor the state governments can “do the job” and therefore the lands should be transferred to private hands.  Nothing would please the Koch Brothers more?

The second way one gets attached to the Bundy-ites is to get mealy and smushy about their activities.  As in, “we do understand their frustration with increasingly heavy handed federal agencies that continue to violate the rights of hardworking American farmers and ranchers.” [RGJ]  It’s past time to get specific.  Exactly what constitutes “heavy handed federal agencies?”  Are they agencies which are tasked to collect grazing fees?  How long is an agency expected to wait for a person to decide to pay those fees? 

Exactly what constitutes a “violation of rights of hardworking people?”  Exactly what rights have been violated?  How is it a violation of my rights to have to pay the same grazing fees, or have to move cattle from overgrazed areas, just like every other rancher in a given area under Federal management?  Freedom, rights, and independence are easy words to toss around, but without actual evidence of real violations of RIGHTS then the argument is hollow.

Bundy rally And, one lands on the anti-public lands roster by sponsoring legislation like Representative Amodei did in April 2015:

“Most recently, Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV) introduced a “large-scale” public lands bill, which would allow the state of Nevada to seize and sell off public lands. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, also requested $50 million in the federal budget in order to facilitate immediate transfer of public lands to state control.”  [TP]

Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then there’s no reason to list it as anything other than a duck.

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Filed under agriculture, Amodei, ecology, koch brothers, National Parks, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics, privatization, public lands, Rural Nevada

Nevada Ballot Questions 2016: The Marijuana Initiative

Marijuana revenue Thus far two ballot questions in the 2016 general election have reached the qualifying status to be assigned numbers by the Secretary of State’s Office. [RGJ]  This means that they have achieved at least 55,234 valid signatures from registered Nevada voters, including at least 13,809 signatures from each of the four petition districts. (pdf )

The initiative to regulate and tax marijuana (Question 1) (pdf) isn’t quite a Fun for All blanket permission slip.  Marijuana may only be purchased from a licensed business; business owners are subject to state review confirming the business owners and business location are suitable; cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transporting, and selling marijuana is to be controlled by state licensing and regulation; selling or supplying marijuana to someone under 21 years of age remains illegal; and, individuals will have to be 21 or older to purchase marijuana. Additionally, driving under the influence remains illegal, and all marijuana sold in the state must be tested and labeled. If this sounds similar to the restrictions on the sale of alcohol, that’s because it is.   And, if this sounds like Nevada wants to emulate the statutes in Colorado, you’re probably right.  The revenue numbers for last October in Colorado were impressive:

“There are three types of state taxes on recreational marijuana: the standard 2.9 percent sales tax, a 10 percent special marijuana sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers. For August, Colorado collected $11.2 million in recreational taxes and fees and $2.0 million in medical taxes and fees, bringing the 2015 cumulative revenue total to nearly $86.7 million. In 2014, total marijuana revenue was $76.2 million.” [DenverPost]

Total taxes, licenses, and fees for Colorado were $61,372,376 in FY 2014-2015, increasing to $97,741,988 in FY 2015-2016. [CO rev dwnld]

Nevada would collect a marijuana excise tax (15%) in addition to sales taxes, and use taxes that apply to retail sales of tangible property. Tax revenues are to be used to pay for administration and regulation (state and local) with the excess remitted to the State Treasurer to be deposited in the State Distributive School Account.  There is a one time application fee of $5,000, an initial license fee of $20,000 and renewal fee of $6,600. Cultivation facilities would pay $30,000 for an initial license and $10,000 for renewal.  Other fees are listed in Section 12 (fee schedule) (pdf) of the initiative.  There’s nothing cheap or easy about setting up cultivation, transport, or sales of marijuana in this ballot initiative.  Before getting too enthusiastic about immediate effects and potential revenue, it’s probably time for a reminder that Nevada really doesn’t have statutory direct initiative:

“Citizens of Nevada may initiate statutes through the process of indirect initiative and constitutional amendments through the process of direct initiative. Once sufficient signatures have been collected, statutory initiatives are first presented to the Nevada State Legislature. If approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor, the proposed statute becomes law. If not, the law is submitted to voters at the next general election. However, upon the Governor’s recommendation (and approval), the legislature may propose an alternative statute to voters. Proposed amendments proceed directly to a vote of the people, but must be approved at two consecutive elections.” [Ballotpd]

This initiative is interesting not only as a revenue enhancement project for a state strapped by Constitutional prohibitions on income taxation, but also as something of a “reverse” wedge issue. Fiscal conservatives may find it an acceptable alternative to increases in business, sales, or property taxation.   Social conservatives may see in it the harbinger of doom, gloom, and social degeneration.   It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the 2016 Nevada general election.

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Filed under Nevada economy, Nevada news, Nevada politics, nevada taxation

They’re Back! Ladies vie for Official Nevada Embarrassment Title

Angle 2016

Just in time for political silly season in Nevada! Sharron Angle, Our Lady of Perpetual Campaigning, is pleased to tell one and all in 8 minutes and 41 seconds, how she’d be a great candidate for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat.

Perhaps we can get a repeat performance of some of Angle’s classics:

“You know what I’m talking about. You’re paying for things that you don’t even need. They just passed the latest one, is everything that they want to throw at us now is covered under ‘autism.’ So, that’s a mandate that you have to pay for. How about maternity leave? I’m not going to have any more babies, but I sure get to pay for it on my insurance. Those are the kinds of things that we want to get rid of.” –Sharron Angle, mocking the notion that health care coverage for autism treatment and maternity leave should be mandated, 2009 Tea Party rally”  [Phumor]

Or this:

They [Republicans] say, ‘You’re too conservative.’ Was Thomas Jefferson too conservative? I’m tired of some people calling me wacky.” –Sharron Angle, March 21, 2010”  [Phumor]  Maybe if she’d stop saying wacky things people might not comment on it?

Fiore Mag

If this isn’t enough fun – welcome back Michele Fiore, the Bundy Babe from southern Nevada.  There’s always her classic comment about guns on campus: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them,” she told the New York Times. “The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” [WaPo]  Nice, for a candidate from Congressional District 3? [h/t Crooks and Liars]

Who’s the best qualified as the Official Embarrassment of the Silver State?

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Filed under Angle, Gun Issues, Nevada news, Nevada politics

A Small But Significant Win? NV Voting Rights Case sent back to Federal District Court

ballot box There was a small but perhaps significant win yesterday for those who believe that ALL eligible citizens in Nevada should have to opportunity to register to vote.

“A federal appeals court on Thursday revived a lawsuit alleging that the Nevada Health and Human Services Department has been disenfranchising potential low-income and disabled voters by not providing registration materials to clients at its offices as required by federal law.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed in 2012 by the National Council of Las Raza and two branches of the NAACP, had been dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Clive Jones after he determined the groups had no standing to bring the claims.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, reviving the complaint that Nevada state officials are violating Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by failing to make voter registration materials available to people who visit their offices.” [LVRJ]

Note, the Appeals Court isn’t saying that the NV HHS was, in fact, in violation of federal statutes, but that the District Court erred in declaring that the original plaintiffs didn’t have standing to file their suit.  Voting rights groups were pleased with the decision:

Voting rights groups Demos, Project Vote, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented the plaintiffs along with the law firms Dechert LLP and Woodburn and Wedge, applauded the decision.

“Today’s decision is a victory for low-income voters in Nevada and the community groups that serve them,” said Brenda Wright, Vice President for Legal Strategies at Demos. “The Ninth Circuit’s decision recognizes the fundamental importance of access to the courts in protecting the right to vote. We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit has rectified a miscarriage of justice by reinstating our clients’ voting rights claims.”

In its opinion, the Court rejected Nevada’s argument that the plaintiffs—organizations that conduct voter registration drives in low-income communities throughout the State—were not harmed by the state’s violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and therefore lacked “standing” to challenge them. 

“The Court recognized that Nevada is answerable to community groups that have been forced to pick up the slack for the State’s failure to fulfill its legal obligations,” said Sarah Brannon, Director of Project Vote’s Government Agency Voter Registration Program.”  [more at Demos]

This, of course, will not please the “election integrity” crowd who will assert that voting is a sort of privilege, a reward for being a “taxpayer” – as if members of minority groups, and those who need social services aren’t “real” taxpayers.  They will, no doubt, continue to whine that their lack of success in some elections can’t possibly be because they lack candidates who appeal to a majority, ergo it must be because the “other side” cheated in some conspiratorial way.  In short, any election they don’t win must necessarily be fraudulent.

No, a “fraudulent” election is one in which there is ample evidence of voter suppression, indications that minority community members were sent misleading and downright inaccurate information, activities such as those of the infamous Nathan Sproul, sweeping voter roll purges, and such suppressive legislation as photo IDs which are difficult for rural, elderly, and non-white voters to access.

Here’s hoping the Federal District Court will take a more constructive view of the issues raised in this case, and will direct that more eligible individuals will be encouraged to participate in Nevada elections.

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Filed under elections, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Vote Suppression, Voting