Friday, Sept. 27, 2002 | 11:08 a.m.
The signs around town hyping the Independent American Party with just one word practically say everything about Nevada's third-largest political party.
"It's not just the Hansens," Joel Hansen, a Las Vegas attorney running for district attorney, says defensively. "There are nine candidates named Hansen and 40 who aren't."
His brother, Christopher Hansen, a candidate for secretary of state and the party's current lead rabble-rouser adds: "We're kind of like the Kennedys of the Independent American Party. Just not as rich."
Rich or not, the Hansens are the heart of the IAP.
Daniel Hansen, Christopher and Joel's brother, founded the party, which now counts more than 14,000 registered voters. He died in January in an accident as he was driving home from the IAP's convention where he hyped "Americanism" and vowed 2002 would be the year for his party.
As of July, the latest state voter registration report, Republicans had more than 350,000 registered voters in the state, trailed by Democrats' nearly 340,000 members. There were just more than 115,000 non-partisan voters registered.
But among other parties, the IAP's totals far outranked Libertarians (about 4,500) and the Green Party (about 2,000).
After jousting with security guards at Palace Station on Tuesday who didn't like him hoisting a sign to condemn his brother Joel's exclusion from a debate, Christopher said this is the year of the IAP.
"We create controversy," Christopher Hansen said. "We're about principles. What's right and what's wrong."
The IAP is the state's most conservative political party. Members eschew alcohol, hate drugs and want to ban abortion and the Internal Revenue Service alike.
The party wants to abolish the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, but beyond that, are strict followers of the document. Members want faith-based government, dislike homosexuality and want the state to take back federally owned lands.
On Tuesday it was a fairness principle. Joel Hansen should be allowed to participate in the district attorney's debate, and Christopher wanted to make sure Republican David Roger and Democrat Mike Davidson knew.
"I think you should walk off and make a statement," Christopher said, confronting Roger before the event.
Whether it's appealing a decision to remove a candidate from the ballot to the Nevada Supreme Court (Nicholas Hansen, Henderson Township constable's race) or refusing to file campaign contribution reports with the secretary of state, the IAP is pushing buttons.
"That guy wants to be secretary of state and he won't even follow the rules he's supposed to enforce," Secretary of State Dean Heller said of Christopher.
Heller is allowing 19 scofflaw IAP candidates to complete the reports by Monday, even though they were due Aug. 27.
IAP candidates instead submitted the forms with: "I do hereby claim my rights against self-incrimination and must therefore decline to fill out this form and or sign it under penalties of perjury."
Susan Bilyeu, deputy secretary of state for elections, said the candidates face penalties ranging up to $5,000 a day from the Aug. 27 deadline if they don't file the reports.
"If they decline to answer, we will take action," Bilyeu said.
IAP candidates, including 17-year-old Anna Kjorvestad who is running for Clark County public administrator, want Heller to explain what consequences signing the forms under penalty of perjury will have.
"Why does Heller demand answers from us but will not answer our questions so we can understand the forms that even Heller said were confusing?" asked Pat Saye, an Assembly District 41 candidate. "I thought he was a public servant, not a public harasser."
While the IAP was happy to serve as harasser Tuesday at the Asian Chamber of Commerce debate, "This is a minority discriminating against the minority party," Christopher Hansen said, they are serious about winning.
Janine Hansen, Christopher and Joel's sister, is running for the 2nd Congressional District after her Nevada Committee for Full Statehood took on the Bureau of Land Management in Palomino Valley over some seized cattle.
Even Janine, Christopher and Joel's mother, Ruth Hansen, is running. At 86, she's a candidate for Washoe County public administrator.
Christopher Hansen says, that at the very least, the IAPs will have cost at least one incumbent her job.
"We got Garn Mabey elected," Christopher Hansen said.
Mabey ran against fellow Republican Merle Berman, the incumbent in Assembly District 2. If IAP candidate Brian Barnes had not filed for the same seat, Berman and Mabey would have advanced automatically to the general, since no Democrat filed for the race either.
With Barnes on the ballot, Mabey and Berman had to square off Sept. 3. Christopher Hansen believes, had Barnes not been there to force the primary, Berman would have ultimately prevailed against Mabey in November, benefitting from more time to raise money and get her voters to the polls.
"The IAP forced the primary," Christopher Hansen said.
The IAPs call themselves "sovereign citizens of Nevada" and date documents "in the year of our Lord 2002."
In addition to Daniel Hansen's death, Clark County assessor candidate Jess Howe, died before the primary.
"This has been such a hard year on us," Christopher Hansen said, his eyes tearing. "To lose two key people in one year was tough.
"But we're tough and we're not going anywhere."