The campaign to raise income taxes by a billion dollars a year hit a major snag on their path to the ballot today, with Secretary of State Scott Gessler announcing his office’s review of a random sample of tax hike petition signatures did not meet the threshold for approval.

Now the tax hike campaign will have to have all 165,706 signatures they submitted reviewed line-by-line.

Based on the 5% random sample reviewed by Gessler’s office, the tax hike petition gatherers had a validity rate of 56% — a far, far cry from the 97% validity rate seen in the Giron recall.

This is especially embarrassing for the tax hike campaign considering they paid a Washington, DC firm — Fieldworks — over $500,000 to get this done.

Upon word breaking of the decision, conservative group Compass Colorado was out with a statement:

“It’s no surprise that an out-of-touch Washington, DC firm – paid over half a million dollars to date – struggled to properly collect signatures to put a billion dollar tax increase on the ballot in Colorado,” said Compass Colorado Executive Director Kelly Maher. “When you have East Coast and special interests entering the state to try to impose their will on Colorado’s families, the result will never be a good one.”

Maher continued: “The need for review is a huge indictment on the claimed momentum of their campaign. The people of Colorado do not want and cannot afford a billion dollar tax increase at a time when our recovery is fragile.”

Considering that the tax hikers only need a 50% validity rate to get on the ballot, as they turned in double the necessary signatures, this isn’t likely to keep the issue off the ballot, but it will provide headaches for the tax hikers and a round of embarrassing press.

Welcome to the big leagues, Curtis Hubbard.