- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Republican in one of Nevada’s most competitive state Senate races says her primary opponent’s campaign is distributing “insanely false” fliers about a governor-backed tax package approved when both of them were in the Legislature last year.

Republican Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman is criticizing advertising from her Republican rival, former Assemblyman Erv Nelson, about a complicated tax bill that she opposed and he supported. Nelson’s fliers reference the bill in saying Nelson is the only candidate in the race who voted to cut taxes on 95 percent of small businesses.

“The scale and scope of this lie being distributed to voters is hard to put into context. It is literally the inverse of truth - the opposite of fact,” Seaman’s campaign manager, Ryan Hamilton, wrote in her email newsletter this week. The bill “forced into existence a commerce tax on many of Nevada’s businesses and is the largest tax increase, ever, in the history of the state.”

Nelson said he stands by the flier, which highlights the part of the bill that permanently implemented a payroll-tax exemption for small businesses that would have otherwise expired. Without the bill, he said, businesses of all sizes would be subject to the tax.

Nelson said the new commerce-tax portion of the bill affects only large businesses that make more than $4 million in Nevada revenue each year, and he described Seaman’s vote against it as a move that favored big corporations such as Wal-Mart.

Seaman said the fliers are misleading and she’s exploring ways to seek recourse. Even though Nelson’s vote preserved a small business exemption in the payroll tax, her campaign notes that the restructured version roped in more businesses than before and raised the payroll tax rate on them.

Votes on the tax package are a major sticking point in Republican primaries for the Nevada Legislature. Opponents say the new commerce tax is similar to a ballot measure that was overwhelmingly defeated in 2014. They argue that Republican lawmakers who helped it pass violated conservative principles and their own anti-tax campaign promises.

“I’ve always run my campaign on trust and honesty,” Seaman said. “That’s why you see people coalescing around Trump and Cruz. They just don’t trust the politicians.”

Republicans who support the bill say it was structured much more thoughtfully than the ballot measure and has a far more modest impact on businesses. They also point to the education initiatives it funded.

“To me that vote was much more conservative than voting against it,” Nelson said. “The hallmark of conservatism is to preserve things that are good. A good public education system is good.”

Nelson and Seaman are competing to represent Senate District 6 in Las Vegas. Republican Mark Lipparelli, who holds the seat now, said he won’t be running this year.

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