As promised, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller is seeking a restraining order that would block a Virginia-based group called Alliance for America’s Future from airing ads in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval.
Miller filed a complaint Tuesday in Nevada’s First Judicial District Court alleging the group is in violation of Nevada law because it is airing ads aimed at influencing the outcome of the Republican primary without having registered as a political action committee, or PAC, with the Secretary of State.
Miller said Monday he would seek such an order (see the story, here).
In the filing (see the complaint, here ) Miller says by registering as a PAC the Alliance would need to identify backers of the group and "failure to register causes irreparable harm to the electoral process itself and to the voters who are entitled to have the information when deciding how to cast their ballot."
In the filing Miller identifies Kara Ahern, a national Republican Party fundraiser and former political director Vice President Dick Cheney as an organizer of the group. Barry Bennett, another representative of the group, has said the Alliance is seeking to make Cheney’s daughter, Mary Cheney, part of the effort. Bennett also says the Alliance is targeting federal races around the country with advertising buys.
In a letter to Miller an attorney for the Alliance says the group isn’t obligated to register because it isn’t directly telling voters to vote for a specific candidate in a particular election.
Miller, in the court filing, counters by arguing the ads are clearly meant to support Sandoval, whose campaign is not affiliated with the group.
"For weeks the liberals have been attacking Brian Sandoval recklessly and personally," the pro-Sandoval ad states. "What are they scared of? They don’t like Brian Sandoval’s conservative values."
The Alliance identifies itself only as a pro-Republican group that is seeking to offset ads by a pro-Democratic group, the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs, which is running anti-Sandoval ads. The Democratic group is registered as a PAC.
Miller wants the Alliance to register and is also seeking a $5,000 fine against the group for each instance of violating election law. He also wants a judge to order the ads to stop airing until the Alliance is determined to be in compliance with the law.
Sandoval is the leader in the Republican primary, with polls showing him holding a double-digit advantage over incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons. The winner will likely face Democrat Rory Reid in the general election. Polls show Reid has a better chance of beating Gibbons than Sandoval, which is why the Democratic group is seeking to help Gibbons survive the primary.