Sen. Dean Heller’s re-election campaign has been operating without a legally required state license since 2013, leading to mounting fines and raising questions about whether his campaign is authorized to exist in Nevada.
Every other Nevada statewide candidate has an up-to-date business license, which political campaigns, corporations and nonprofits are required by law to obtain in order to legally operate in the state. Because Heller’s campaign has failed to renew its business license for five years, Heller owes more than $700 in fines to the state.
In May 2011, Heller, a Republican appointed to the Senate that month following the resignation of Sen. John Ensign, paid to license his campaign committee, Heller for Senate, as a “domestic non-profit corporation” with the Nevada Secretary of State. But since May 2013, Heller has failed to pay the required annual fee.
Today, a search of the Nevada database of registered businesses reveals the business license status of Heller for Senate is “revoked.”
In the absence of a business license, Heller for Senate appears to exist in a legal gray area. State law requires that all Nevada corporations “shall … on or before the last day of the month in which the anniversary date of incorporation occurs in each year … file with the Secretary of State.” The law does not list any exceptions that appear to apply to Heller for Senate.
Heller’s general election opponent, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, has an active business license. So do Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a Republican now running for governor, and the state’s other U.S. senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat.
In 2003, when Heller was responsible for managing the state’s business licensing program as secretary of state, he praised then-Gov. Kenny Guinn’s plan to raise taxes and fees by $980 million in part by increasing these kinds of license fees, according to the Associated Press.
“I think it’s the best speech he’s given…he had a strong message. He has a vision of where he wants the state to go,” Heller said at the time.