Thursday, November 20, 2003

Radio silence

Not really, folks. I'll be on KNPR, 88.9 FM, Monday the 24th from 9 -10 a.m. Pacific time discussing the federal Hatch Act, separation of powers and other line-blurring issues in Nevada's civil service with host Gwen Castaldi. The program is called KNPR's State of Nevada, and one of the other guests will be Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, who's the subject of a Hatch Act inquiry related to his regular job as a deputy police chief in Henderson. If you live outside Southern Nevada, streaming audio is available on KNPR's Web site here. Tune in.

It keeps growing, and growing ...

The House of Representatives votes 264-163 to expand the ability of the feds to snoop into your personal finances without judicial oversight ... all as a part of the war on terror. Las Vegas will become a key player in this matter (as it has been in an earlier financial privacy brouhaha), because, as the AP reports,

The bill's provisions affecting financial records will expand the number of businesses from which the FBI and other agencies could demand information without needing a subpoena. That power is now limited to traditional financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions. It broadens the definition of financial institutions to include businesses that deal with large amounts of cash, such as casinos and pawn shops (emphasis mine).

Sad to say, according to this Las Vegas Sun story, Nevada Rep. Jim "Gibbons was one of the negotiators on the final version of the bill, and his spokeswoman, Amy Spanbuaer, said this morning that Gibbons believes a private individual does not have an expectation of privacy with regard to a third party."

If there's any good news here, some senators, including Nevada's Harry Reid and John Ensign (whose father is a mucky-muck with Mandalay Resorts), are balking at the implications this has for patrons of casinos, who have every interest in maintaining at least the appearance of discretion. That said, AFAIK, John Ashcroft isn't any fan of legalized gaming, so he and his may give a rat's ass. By the time you read this, the full Senate may have sent this steamy pile to the White House for W.'s signature anyway.

BTW, John Berlau's cover story for Reason about financial secrecy laws is online here.

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