Published Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 | 10:13 a.m.
Updated Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 | 11:06 a.m.
A conservative group is working to pre-empt Republican Sen. Mark Hutchison's Labor Day weekend tour of rural Nevada with robo-calls and newspaper ads attacking him for supporting a failed measure to increase mining taxes.
Hutchison, a Las Vegas Republican, is running for lieutenant governor — his first statewide campaign. He plans to attend a number of Labor Day parades in rural Nevada this weekend.
But the conservative activist group Citizen Outreach is trying to beat him to the punch.
In a round of robo-calls launched Wednesday, former Assemblyman Ed Goedhart urges voters: "If you see Mark Hutchison, ask him why he is anti-mining.
"Mark Hutchison voted this year to allow unlimited increases in mining taxes and sponsored a bill to double the taxes mining pays."
Citizen Outreach also is paying for newspaper ads in Winnemucca and Elko that highlight Hutchison's record on mining.
Last session, Hutchison joined with Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson to champion a bill that will allow voters to decide whether to take the mining industry's tax protections out of the state constitution. Hutchison also sponsored a failed measure meant to compete with the 2014 margins tax ballot question that would have increased the mining industry's taxes to pay for education. Hutchison has said he believes the industry is not paying enough to compensate Nevadans for the minerals they reap from the state.
He also defended his support for the mining tax as a way to defeat the proposed 2 percent margins tax, which he believes would "be devastating to Nevada."
The mining tax increase has been popular in Clark County, which does not rely heavily on the mining industry. In rural Nevada, however, a mining tax increase is vehemently opposed.
"The truth? Mark Hutchison is not anti-mining and, as a matter of fact, is touring a major Nevada mine this weekend," Hutchison's campaign consultant, Mike Slanker, said. "Mark has consistently fought the conservative fight for Nevadans, including the national fight against Obamacare. His thoughtful, conservative approach to public service is exactly why Gov. (Brian) Sandoval, Sen. (Dean) Heller and so many others have endorsed him."
Citizen Outreach is a Las Vegas-based conservative organization that has been supportive of Republican Sue Lowden for lieutenant governor. The group has recently run afoul of campaign finance laws by running advertisements against former Assembly Speaker John Oceguear without disclosing its contributors and expenses. Citizen Outreach founder Chuck Muth said his organization is appealing that decision.