Group Alleges Nevada Tax Conspiracy

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Splinter political parties, conservative groups and others opposed to a record $836 million Nevada tax plan are alleging a conspiracy to get the plan approved.

Joel Hansen, an Independent American Party activist and lawyer, filed a new complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas claiming the governor, two Supreme Court justices and some lawmakers were involved in the conspiracy.

Hansen based his lawsuit on a newspaper column that said Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn and Justices Bob Rose and Miriam Shearing made a deal some time ago to push through tax hikes.

Hansen said he has no independent evidence to support his claims _ but the Las Vegas Review-Journal's refusal to retract the column gave it validity.

The allegation were made after the governor asked the Supreme Court to help resolve a budget impasse. The court then told lawmakers to quickly pass a tax bill without a constitutionally required two-thirds majority vote. The final plan was approved _ barely _ by two-thirds of the legislators.

A Guinn spokesman, Rose and Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, said the allegations of a conspiracy are absurd.

"He was absolutely never involved in any discussions with the justices,"Guinn spokesman Brian Catlett told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Rose, who asked the Review-Journal to retract the statements made in the column, said,"It is patently false and malicious, and it was irresponsible to even print that allegation without calling the parties that were allegedly involved."

Titus said no deal was made, adding,"I didn't even want the court to get involved at all _ I believe in the separation of powers."

Review-Journal columnist Vin Suprynowicz wrote that a retired Nevada judge told him that lawmakers didn't need to budge on the tax bill because"the fix is in."

The paper on Saturday ran a story saying it would not withdraw the column. Suprynowicz'column"was a fair characterization of what he heard and his conclusion on what transpired,"editor Thomas Mitchell said.

Hansen's original lawsuit was filed after Nevada's federal judges dismissed a complaint brought by anti-tax lawmakers claiming the Supreme Court's ruling was unconstitutional. The lawmakers have appealed that ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

His new suit lists seven citizen and political groups and about 300 people whom he said were outraged by the court's ruling.

The groups include the IAP, the Nevada Committee for Full Statehood, Nevada Eagle Forum, Nevada Coalition for Immigration Reform, the Libertarian Party of Nevada and the Nevada Republican Liberty Caucus.