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Mining Gets the Full Monte (Miller)

Last spring, a ballot initiative to tax the living shinola out of mining was proposed by Republican businessman Monte Miller – a huge backer of Sen. “Moderate Mike” Roberson.

Miller wanted to stop the AFL-CIO from moving forward with its so-called anti-business “margins” tax (gross receipts tax by a softer-sounding name) which would hit Miller’s particular business especially hard.

As the Las Vegas Sun reported last year, Miller’s “Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes would start the process to amend the constitution, which sets the mining tax. It would allow the Legislature to almost double the tax on mines from the current 5 percent.”

According to the Sun, Miller “said that he wanted to give voters an alternative to a broad-based business tax increase that appeared destined for the ballot.”

In other words, Miller was more than happy to cynically discard his self-professed fiscal conservatism to “tax the guy behind the tree as long as you don’t tax me.”

Miller’s “strategery” was to threaten mining with a tax hike to dissuade them from backing the union’s plan. And after support for the biz tax appeared to falter, Miller withdrew his threatened anti-mining ballot initiative.

But several months later, the teachers union breathed new life into the moribund gross receipts tax. They gathered way more than enough signatures to force the Legislature to vote up or down on the biz tax after all.

Miller must have been scared white at the prospect!

So does anyone really find it to be just a coincidence that “Moderate Mike” essentially proposed the exact same mining tax yesterday that Miller proposed and abandoned a year ago when he thought the biz tax was dead?

If so, let’s connect a few dots and follow some money.

On Miller’s campaign report for his mining tax proposal last May, the only consulting expenses listed were for a company called Advanced Micro Targeting (AMT); a firm owned by an out-of-state former Democrat political operative named Billy Rogers.

Rogers’ firm was paid the following to work on Miller’s mining tax initiative:

2/8/12 – $10,640
2/23/12 – $37,500
3/19/12 – $38,867
4/4/12 – $16,881
4/10/12 – $15,261

Awful lot of money for an initiative that never got filed.

Anyway, I thought I’d check the Secretary of State’s website to see who else has paid AMT for work in Nevada over the past couple of years, and look what I found…

  • $20,452 paid by Miller’s Keystone Corporation
  • $190,798 by Sen. Michael Roberson
  • $60,000 paid by Roberson’s Senate Republican Leadership Conference
  • $6,626 by Jodi Stephens, Roberson’s senate caucus director
  • $45,000 paid by state Sen. Greg Brower, a Roberson/mining tax supporter
  • $185,371 by state Sen. Mark Hutchison, a Roberson/mining tax hike supporter
  • $234,553 by Roberson-backed senate candidate Steve Kirk
  • $184,978 by Roberson-backed senate candidate Mari Nakishima

Keystone Corporation also gave Roberson’s Senate Republican Leadership Conference $37,500 last year.

But yeah, I’m sure the Miller-Rogers-Roberson links are just purely coincidental. I mean, what are the odds of Roberson & Company and Monte Miller sharing the exact same consultant and proposing a bill and an initiative that are almost exactly the same, right?

I mean, you’d have to be, like, super-paranoid to think that Monte Miller is the guy actually pulling Roberson’s strings on this “Screw Mining” bill in the background, wouldn’t you?

And folks, I’m just scratching the surface here. If you have the time to dig deeper and continue following this incestuous money trail, you’re gonna find Monte Miller’s fingerprints and footprints on this everywhere you look.

Seriously, this is like Nevada’s political version of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Here, follow this…

Jon Ralston reported earlier today that the Las Vegas Sands is supporting Roberson’s mining tax proposal.

The Las Vegas Sands lobbyist who Ralston quoted is Robert Uithoven.

Robert Uithoven and Patrick McNaught launched a government affairs operation a little over a year ago for law firm Kolesar & Leatham.

Roberson is a lawyer who also works for Kolesar & Leatham.

McNaught was Roberson’s BFF who in 2010 ran against and lost to state Sen. Joe Hardy, Roberson’s new tax-hiking BFF.

Uithoven has been a close political adviser to Monte Miller and Miller’s Keystone Corporation for years.

Now look, nothing against Uithoven, McNaught or Rogers. They are talented professional political consultants working hard for their clients. They’re not the bad guys here.

The question is who’s behind and directing all the money being funneled to them and telling Roberson what to do.

And everywhere you turn it’s: Monte Miller.

Here, let’s try this again.

Monte Miller was a huge Gov. Jim Gibbons supporter.

Monte Miller then threw Gibbons under the bus and backed Brian Sandoval in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

Uithoven was Gibbons’ chief-of-staff until Gibbons threw Uithoven under the bus.

Uithoven and Miller became close allies.

Sandoval helped Roberson raise some $800,000 for senate candidates last year.

Candidates backed by Monte Miller and/or his Keystone Corporation…who are now backing Roberson’s mining tax proposal that’s the mirror image of…Monte Miller’s.

Then again, maybe I really am just being too much of a conspiracy theorist here. Maybe I’m just being overly paranoid. Maybe Miller has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Roberson’s anti-mining bill.

And maybe the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny will all be coming over my house for dinner tonight!

Maybe I should invite Monte to join us.

DRIVE-BY MUTHINGS

* Personally, I think the Legislature should seat Assemblyman Steven Brooks and expel Sen. Michael Roberson. Roberson is clearly nuts if he thinks raising taxes to the tune of $1.4 BILLION is good for Nevada…or the Republican Party.

* Speaking of which, even though Roberson’s new mining tax hike proposal is a blatant, clear-cut violation of the official 2012 Nevada Republican Party platform, I’m not hearing very many loud, outraged voices from party leaders condemning Moderate Mike by my fellow Republicans.

The silence is deafening, folks.

* Although they’ve been somewhat muted in publicly voicing their lack of support for Roberson’s mining tax proposal, some of his colleagues in the Senate caucus – especially Sen. Pete “Tax My Meat but Not My Mines” Goicoechea – are furious. As are GOP members in the Assembly who were completely blindsided by Moderate Mike’s sneak attack.

Leaders are supposed to be uniters, not dividers. Mike Roberson is no leader.

* I wonder if the www.RecallRoberson.com initiative that didn’t materialize last spring will rise again this spring?

* Business owners predicting doom-and-gloom scenarios should the disingenuously-named “margins” tax be approved are missing the point. It’s not the type of tax that’s objectionable; it’s what the money will be used for. Government will grow. And the more government grows the more money it needs to keep growing.

It’s not the taxes; it’s the spending (stupid). All businesses of all kinds should oppose all tax increases of any amount on anybody.

* Let’s see: MGM Resorts plans to build a brand-spanking new arena on the Strip without using a dime of tax payer money while UNLV wants to build a $1 billion stadium on campus using a BOATLOAD of tax dollars.

Hmm. Decisions, decisions on which one to support.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

“I’m not happy.” – Republican State Sen. Pete Goicoechea doing his best Dina Titus imitation in response to GOP colleague Sen. Michael Roberson’s mining tax proposal