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Clark County GOP faction sues to stop state party meeting

One of two warring factions of the Clark County Republican Party has filed a lawsuit to halt the state party’s plans to hold a leadership election in Winnemucca this weekend.

The lawsuit comes as control of the county party is still the subject of a months-long legal dispute that’s yet to be resolved.

The action was filed Friday in Humboldt County District Court by a faction of Clark County’s GOP now led by state Sen. Carrie Buck, R-Henderson. It accuses the Nevada Republican Party of trying to hold the election before the Clark County leadership dispute is settled, which could affect who represents the state’s most populous county at the Winnemucca vote.

Buck’s faction wants to put the meeting on hold until the proper members and delegates can be determined, according to the lawsuit.

A judge is reviewing the filing and has not issued an order.

The filing follows months of bickering between two factions that both contend they are the rightful leaders of the Clark County Republican Party.

Democracy ‘irreparably harmed’

“If (the state party) and the rogue group claiming to be the (Clark County Republican Party) are allowed to continue its unauthorized and fraudulent scheme, (the Buck faction) and the whole idea of democracy will be irreparably harmed,” an application for a temporary restraining order states.

The Nevada Republican Party has not been served with the lawsuit, but will be filing an opposition. Party chair Michael McDonald is seeking reelection at the Saturday meeting.

The dispute between the county GOP factions stems from a party meeting in July that went awry and ended without the election of new leadership.

Days later, a group of members decided to call the meeting back into order to finish the process. At the follow-up meeting, members who attended elected Jesse Law to lead the party.

But the county party’s acting leaders considered the meeting fraudulent, and weeks later filed a lawsuit against Law and his newly elected team. Ultimately, a judge dismissed the case with prejudice, saying she did not have jurisdiction over a dispute within the party.

The Buck faction plans to appeal that ruling. The group has argued that the court only ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the matter and did not decide who is in charge of the party.

The Nevada Republican Party sided with Law in the case and said it has recognized his team as the rightful leaders of the county party. In Friday’s lawsuit, Buck’s faction alleges the state party has been helping Law and his team stage a coup.

After the judge tossed the original lawsuit, the factions held dueling party meetings.

At Law’s meeting, membership voted to send a recommendation to the state party to boot members of the competing faction from the state central committee.

Members who attended the opposing meeting elected Buck as chair of the party.

Intimidation alleged

According to the complaint, Law’s faction has begun “systematically attempting to intimidate and prevent the proper delegates” of the local party from attending the state meeting and participating in the election.

The lawsuit alleges Law sent emails to Clark County Republican Party members informing them that they were voted out of the county party and will be voted out of the state party on Saturday.

In an email, Law called Buck and those around her “Democrats masquerading as Republicans” to take over the party and “litigate in order to control it.”

He said Buck didn’t get the results she wanted in Clark County and took the legal fight to Humboldt County. He said Buck tried to mislead the court into granting a restraining order without notifying the state and county parties.

“Not only is Buck trying to infringe upon Nevada Republicans’ Constitutional Rights of Assembly, but she is also actively trying to preclude Republicans from having Due Process,” Law wrote. “The (county party) will continue to protect our Republican members from Buck’s assault on their Constitutional Rights. We are confident that the Court will dismiss this matter expeditiously.”

The state central committee has not yet voted on whether to remove members of Buck’s faction from the party. Buck’s group wants the court to bar the state party from being able to remove the members.

In a statement, Buck said every vote in the election for new state party officers should count.

“Anyone who makes blatant attempts to rig or make last-minute voter modifications that are baseless and solely favors those who stand to lose in a fair election process must be removed from office,” she said.

“The fact that these individuals have the audacity to remove 26 or more opposing CCRCC members without cause and suppress their right to vote out of fear of losing should outrage every single Republican in the State.

“This egregious attempt to sway an election is a clear violation of voter rights and is against the ‘Election Integrity’ mantra the (state party) and (county party) have been championed on strongly.”

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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