Former candidates fined for campaign violations | NevadaAppeal.com

Former candidates fined for campaign violations

Secretary of State Ross Miller has taken a hard line on 2006 candidates who refuse to follow campaign contribution and expense reporting laws, fining 118 different people who ran for office.

That includes more than a dozen Independent American Party candidates who have challenged the fines, saying Miller is following in his predecessor Dean Heller’s footsteps, unconstitutionally harassing and trying to intimidate them. And in the case of most IAP candidates, the fines are the maximum $5,000 apiece for each of three contribution and expense reports.

“To the extent there are campaign violations, I’m going to enforce them,” Miller said. “If they don’t pay it, we institute proceedings in district court.”

Miller’s elections deputy Matt Griffin said those on the list can pay the fines, set up a payment schedule or ask for a waiver. He said Miller has granted waivers to at least 70 people for a variety of reasons.

IAP spokeswoman Janine Hansen said they are being harassed illegally.

“I filled out my forms. I put all zeroes on it because I never collected or spent money,” she said.

But in the IAP candidate cases, Griffin said, they altered the campaign reporting forms, striking out the oath to report accurately under penalty of perjury. Hansen said the oath was replaced with a religious affirmation.

“The law specifies they are supposed to sign the affidavit,” said Griffin. “There’s no discretion. It’s in the law.”

Hansen said it was part of election regulations that, if there is a problem with a candidate’s form, the secretary of state is supposed to notify that candidate, but that requirement was eliminated without the IAP knowing it.

“They never notified me. They just reversed the regulation.”

Griffin said the law is simple: “They have to sign under penalty of perjury. I have no authority to waive that.”

Of the 118 on the list, 26 have already requested a waiver and 20 have paid their fines.

Hansen said the IAP members have no intention of paying because the secretary of state has never defined what is meant by money contributions. It has been IAP philosophy over the years that federal reserve notes should not be considered legal tender.

“I have received no contributions and/or made no expenditures in gold or silver dollars,” she wrote on her reports.

Her brother Christopher Hansen, however, has asked for a waiver.

Hansen said the IAP will take Miller to federal court charging he is violating their constitutional rights.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.