Updated March 8, 2023 - 5:01 am
Nevada Democrats are calling on the state party’s chair to resign after more than 230 central committee members were removed from the membership list.
Chair Judith Whitmer, who is facing a tough re-election campaign in March against Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, D-North Las Vegas, said the purging was a standard procedure that happens multiple times a year when members fail to attend two consecutive meetings.
Concerns of disenfranchisement
On Friday about 40 members of the state central committee, which is the governing body of the Nevada State Democratic Party, sent a letter to Whitmer expressing concern that about 40 percent of the membership was removed before the March meeting where the officer elections will take place. Two people who signed the letter are members running alongside Monroe-Moreno on the “Democratic Unity Slate,” including Travis Brock and Francisco Morales.
Among those who were removed were lawmakers such as Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager, state Sens. Fabian Doñate and Rochelle Nguyen, Assemblywoman Selena Torres, all D-Las Vegas, as well as Clark County Commissioners Justin Jones and Tick Segerblom.
The committee members who wrote the letter said there has been a lack of transparency with attendance records and that there is no way for “independent verification of whether members in good standing were improperly removed.” The letter added that the purging is “deeply alarming and raises serious doubts about the integrity of the upcoming election.”
The Nevada State Democratic Party has since shared those attendance records publicly.
After that letter was sent Nevada Democrats Doñate, as well as organizations like the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, called on Whitmer to resign, saying timing of the purging — a few weeks before the March 4 election for chair — was concerning.
According to the 2021 updated charter and bylaws of the Nevada State Democratic Party, “any member who fails to submit proxy designation in advance for two regular meetings during a two-year term shall be considered to have vacated his or her membership.”
“Our bylaws apply … to everyone equally, whether you’re an elected official or not an elected official,” Whitmer said. “If you don’t read the entire bylaw, then it’s easy to claim that there’s been some sort of fraud.”
There are four meetings every year, and all the dates and locations of meetings are published in advance on the website. Whitmer said they send out a 30 day notice, a 14-day notice and a seven day notice.
Whitmer said that it is “absurd” to think that she is targeting anyone with the purging or that she is removing somebody who she thinks is not going to vote for her.
“First of all, I don’t know who’s going to vote for me, or who’s not going to vote for me unless they’ve declared it publicly,” Whitmer said.
She added that she does not remove anyone from the membership, and rather that is the responsibility of the secretary, who keeps the membership records and works with the rules and bylaws committee.
It is common for members to stop attending meetings. Many people join the membership during the party’s state convention or during an election year but then do not want to keep attending meetings year-round and in a non-election year, Whitmer said.
Some people were removed from the central committee membership because they did not attend the June 25 meeting as well as the Sept. 24 meeting, but did attend the December meeting, prompting confusion when they found out this week that they were removed.
Whitmer said that prior to December when the vacancies were discovered, the party was focused on the 2022 midterms and supporting Democratic candidates in Georgia’s special election.
Restored to membership
Central committee member John Solomon Jr., noticed he had been removed as a member even though he had attended the December meeting and the June meeting, missing only one meeting in between. After he reached out to the party to deny his absence and have two other people vouch for him, he was reinstated. Solomon was told he had been removed due to a lack of documentation that he had gone.
“If an error does slip through, there’s a process for that,” Whitmer said. “We’ve made it clear to all state central committee members (that) when they are removed, and they think they are removed in error, all they have to do is request to recheck their attendance records. And we’re happy to do that for them.”
Segerblom, who lost his election for chair to Whitmer in 2021, was also removed from the membership list. He had missed all of the meetings, he said, so the party was “totally in the right” to take him off. He hopes to get back on the state central committee soon.
“This is what we do every two years,” Segerblom said. “It’s standard procedure.”
Jones said he has his registration emails for each meeting confirmed but he does not know how they track attendance.
“I think that it was definitely done in anticipation of the upcoming election,” Jones said. Jones’ wife, Megan Jones, a prominent Democratic political consultant, was also removed from the central committee.
Contact Jessica Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.
A previous version of this story misidentified the title of state Sen. Rochelle Nguyen.