Hansen ethics charges against Heller set for Wednesday

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Secretary of State Dean Heller says Independent American Party candidate Chris Hansen's complaint accusing him of malicious conduct in their campaign battle is "a bizarre rant."

The Ethics Commission hearing into charges against Heller is set for Wednesday in Las Vegas. Hansen, an Independent American member from Henderson, filed the allegations after Heller was quoted as saying Hansen "wants to be secretary of state and he won't even follow the rules he's supposed to enforce."

According to Hansen, who is trying to unseat Heller in his bid for another term, that violates Nevada laws barring malicious attempts to "impede the success" or an opponent's campaign.

"Mr. Hansen's complaint in a bizarre rant, very loosely based on the Constitution and Bible, attempting to rationalize his own failure to comply with Nevada's election statutes and regulations," Heller's letter states.

The statutes in question are those requiring candidates to file reports of their campaign contributions and expenditures. Hansen and 18 other members of the IAP have refused to fill out and file those reports saying it would violate their constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Heller's letter says Hansen hasn't proven the statement he made was false or presented evidence to show Heller acted with malice. And he said there is no evidence the statement actually impeded Hansen's campaign.

That law has been the subject of at least two lawsuits since it was passed by the 1997 Legislature. Authored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, to prohibit malicious lies during campaigns, it allows the Ethics Commission to fine violators.

The latest suit by the ACLU and Nevada Press Association charges that the law unconstitutionally chills campaign debate and violates free speech rights of the candidates and other advocates in the political process.

Heller's letter says that Hansen's complaint doesn't cite any of the subject areas protected in that law.

"Indeed, Mr. Hansen's complaint itself could be construed as a violation of the very statute he complains I violated as it purportedly attacks my training and occupation," Heller concluded.


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