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Different panel members to review governor’s tax break

CARSON CITY — State Ethics Commission members Tim Cashman and Erik Beyer were named Tuesday as a two-member panel to investigate whether Gov. Jim Gibbons pressured an Elko County official to give him a tax break.

The two commissioners will conduct a hearing at 9 a.m. Sept. 11 on whether Gibbons should face the full commission on charges he broke ethics laws in securing a $40 property tax assessment on land he owns near Elko. The state Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint.

The panel hearings are usually private, but Gibbons waived his right to confidentiality. The proceedings will be webcast on the Legislature’s Web site: www.leg.state.nv.us.

Elko County Assessor Joe Aguirre said in July he felt pressured to give Gibbons a tax break. Land for agriculture is taxed at a reduced rate but must meet special criteria.

To secure the lower tax rate, grazing land must earn at least $5,000 and be large enough to produce more than half the feed for the animals on it.

Gibbons met with Aguirre last fall to ask about getting the tax break, but was told the land was too small.

Aguirre was then contacted by John E. Marvel, a member of the state Tax Commission, who was acting as Gibbons’ attorney.

Marvel produced receipts that apparently showed Gibbons earned more than $5,000 in grazing fees on the land.

Aguirre gave Gibbons a tax break that reduced his property taxes from $5,000 a year to less than $40.

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