Controller Knecht ends battle to repeal commerce tax |

Controller Knecht ends battle to repeal commerce tax

Controller Ron Knecht on Wednesday gave up the battle to repeal the controversial commerce tax even though District Judge James Wilson cleared the way to put the referendum petition on the November ballot.

In an email to supporters, he said simply there isn’t enough time to collect the minimum 55,234 signatures of registered Nevada voters by June 21 so the petition drive is over.

Knecht said backers had already collected more than 20,000 signatures when the Supreme Court invalidated the petition.

Judge Wilson originally certified the petition as valid, but the Supreme Court ruled it failed to properly notify voters as to the impact the ballot question would have.

After Wilson rewrote the Description of Effect to meet the Supreme Court’s requirements, that invalidated those 20,000 signatures, forcing the petition supporters to start over.

Until that point, Knecht said the Koch brothers funded group Americans for Prosperity was ready to put an experienced team on the ground here to collect the rest of the signatures. But after that ruling, he said the group pulled out.

“AFP had already decided things in Florida and elsewhere needed their attention,” he said.

Knecht said the defeat shows Nevada’s political establishment is “controlled by big gaming and big unions.” The Supreme Court, he said, “manufactured a bogus excuse to upset the referendum effort.”

He said by the time the court ruled, “essentially we couldn’t quite get there.”

But he said the longterm battle isn’t over.

“I can tell you that while we have lost this political battle, the war against the predatory, selfish special interests (the political establishment) and for the voters, taxpayers, public interest and our children’s future will continue with renewed vigor,” he wrote in the email to supporters.

He urged the group to save the names of those who signed the original petition as “a database for future efforts.”