Updated September 23, 2021 - 7:14 am
Two bickering factions of the Clark County Republican Party held dueling meetings Tuesday, but a judge’s ruling may have settled the matter of who’s actually in charge.
At the Ahern Hotel, hundreds of members, many of them new, attended a meeting led by Jesse Law, who contends he is the party’s rightfully elected chairman.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to your Republican Party,” Law said to applause.
He told members that his group stopped an infiltration of the party “right in its tracks.”
The meeting booted several trustees from their positions for allegedly excluding people from the party, among other things. Trustees are voting members of the local party’s executive board.
Attendees also approved sending a recommendation to the state party that members of the competing faction be removed from the state central committee.
Rival faction elects Buck
Meanwhile, a simultaneous virtual meeting resulted in the election of state Sen. Carrie Buck as chairwoman of the county party. The meeting was led by Stephen Silberkraus, who contended he was acting chair.
“The Clark County Republican Party is at a tipping point,” Buck said in a statement. “The past series of incidents have become significant, and as a result, we see the need for larger, more important change.”
Buck said she would focus on achieving high goals, aggressive accountability and making the county GOP “the most well-functioning political organization in the state.”
Before she was elected, Buck addressed party members on the unexpected “insurgency” from Law’s group.
“It is still not clear about whether or not that faction have realized the majority of members do not side with them, and that dragging the election process to court just highlights that the reason for all of this is a power grab starting at the top,” she said.
More than 100 people voted during the virtual meeting.
In an email to membership Sunday, Law said virtual meetings do not amount to official business and that his faction was hosting the party’s only legitimate meeting.
Each faction considers itself the true Clark County Republican Party. Michael McDonald, chairman of the state GOP, has said Law’s team is the only one recognized by the Nevada Republican Party and the Republican National Committee.
The Silberkraus faction’s hopes that a court would resolve the matter were dashed this month when District Judge Susan Johnson tossed a lawsuit against Law’s group, questioning whether she had any authority to settle an internal dispute within a political party.
The dueling factions disagreement stems from a July 20 meeting that went awry and ended without the election of a new leadership team. On July 28, a faction of the party held a session to complete the July 20 meeting, and Law was elected to the lead the party.
At the time, acting party leadership called that meeting fraudulent. Last month, they filed a lawsuit against Law and his leadership team.
On Sept. 2, then-District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ruled that the July 20 meeting was ended by police, the follow-up meeting was improperly noticed and Law’s election at that meeting did not count.
Law’s faction argued the meeting was recessed and that party rules allow members to reconvene recessed meetings.
Johnson overturned Gonzalez’s ruling Sept. 9, and in an order signed Tuesday, Johnson agreed that the committee completed its work at the July 28 meeting where Law was elected. She dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice.
Faction keeps up the fight
Silberkraus, who was elected by his faction Tuesday night as the group’s political director, said Johnson’s ruling does not determine who is rightfully in charge of the party and that his side plans to move forward with further legal action.
The lawyer representing Silberkraus’ group did not respond to questions Wednesday about what the next legal steps are for the faction.
Silberkraus contends his side is still in charge because the party’s board of trustees did not recognize Law and his group as elected officers.
Outside of court, Silberkraus’ organization will continue trying to get Republicans elected, he said.
But Law maintains that his organization is the only official Clark County GOP because it is the only organization recognized by the state party.
“I understand that they (the other faction) want to lie to these poor victim Republicans that are on the Zoom call. I understand that they use fear in order to inspire that,” Law said.
“This group wants to use inspiration to inspire going forward, and that right there is a contrast that I’m trying to build.”