CARSON CITY -- Sue Lowden, a front-runner in the crowded Republican field in Nevada's U.S. Senate race, pulled out of a Reno candidate forum Saturday after questions were raised over a consultant and how any proceeds at the event would be distributed.
"Sue wants to remain above the fray," Lowden spokeswoman Crystal Feldman told The Associated Press by telephone. "If there's any issue, she's not going to participate."
Saturday's forum at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center was sponsored by Project Americans Coming Together, Western Representation PAC, Nevada 9/12 Project and Nevada Republican Assembly -- all conservative groups united in working for the defeat of Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Lowden notified organizers shortly before the 3 p.m. panel that she would not attend.
The forum went on with four other GOP contenders, who answered questions from moderators but did not question or respond to each other.
They included Danny Tarkanian, a Las Vegas lawyer and son of former UNLV Jerry Tarkanian; Sharron Angle, a former state assemblywoman who was endorsed by the national Tea Party Express; Assemblyman Chad Christensen; and Bill Parsons, a retired Marine and constitutionalist.
All got a warm reception from the crowd that numbered a little over 100.
The winner of the June 8 primary will take on Reid in November.
A grass roots group affiliated with the tea party movement called Anger is Brewing earlier this week posted a notice on its website that it would not participate in the conservative forum because it was presented as a fundraiser.
"We have no issue with that, of course, but cannot confirm which groups are set to profit from this fundraiser," it stated.
Roger Stockman, the main organizer of the forum, denied that any candidate would benefit.
"It was never intended that way," he said.
Feldman said Lowden's camp talked to its lawyer, who advised Lowden not to attend as a precaution so as not to invite any "unwarranted" complaints with the Federal Election Commission.
"We don't want to have any part of it," Feldman said.
Stockman said sponsors likely will have to pony up for Saturday's event. Before the gathering broke up, he needled participants to buy more tickets to cover the cost of a $500 gun that was the grand prize of a raffle.
"These are four grass roots organizations, who really just want to give people a chance to hear the candidates and choose the best candidates," he said.