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GOP Candidate in Nevada Defends Tax on Veterans

LAS VEGAS — With a Democratic political action committee coming after her, former Nevada GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden hit back Wednesday against a critical ad that accuses her of seeking to tax veterans who want to be buried in military cemeteries.

Lowden is one of the top contenders in the state’s Tuesday Republican primary to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in November.

On a hastily arranged conference call with reporters, Lowden accused Reid’s campaign of being behind the ad.

“Once again, Harry Reid’s liberal allies — Patriot Majority 2010 — are attacking me to try to influence the outcome of our Republican primary,” Lowden said, according to a transcript provided by her campaign.

But Lowden acknowledged and defended her decision to propose a $100 fee on noncombat veterans seeking to be buried in military cemeteries when she chaired the state Senate Taxation Committee.

“I had to balance our state budget,” she explained. “Part of the balancing process was charging a nominal fee to certain noncombat vets in order to be buried in our state’s veterans cemeteries.”

But she said her record on taxes is still conservative, saying the state Senate panel under her leadership “became known by media, lawmakers and lobbyists as the Senate No-Taxation Committee.”

Lowden also brought up Reid’s now-famous 2007 comments that the war in Iraq was “lost,” in an effort to impugn his record on veterans and the military.

The PAC’s ad is running statewide on local TV and cable through Tuesday morning, PAC President Craig Varoga said Wednesday.

“Sue Lowden’s record on taxes is out of touch … and outrageous. The [Las Vegas] Review-Journal says Lowden voted to raise taxes and fees on everything from water distribution to slot machines,” the ad states. “But the very worst? Lowden tried to charge a fee … on the burials of our veterans. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars opposed Lowden’s plan. Punish veterans by charging for burials? Sue Lowden and taxes — out of touch and outrageous.”

The PAC first ran ads against Lowden for comments she made indicating the solution to rising health care costs might be bartering between patients and doctors, and she used a chicken as an example.

Reporters asked Reid about the ad Wednesday, after he participated in early voting in Las Vegas.

“I, of course, have no relationship with any PAC that’s running ads period, so I don’t know about that,” Reid said.

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