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GOP state senators accused of illegal fundraising

Updated December 17, 2021 - 5:18 pm

Another salvo has been fired in an ongoing internal Republican party scuffle via complaints lodged this week with the secretary of state’s office claiming illegal fundraising by one of two rival party factions in Clark County.

The rival groups, one recognized as the official county GOP organization by state and national Republicans, have fought openly since a disputed July reorganization meeting, prompting court cases and litigation.

Complaints filed Tuesday by a Henderson resident affiliated with the state-sanctioned county GOP group allege that the leader of the rival faction, state Sen. Carrie Buck, R-Henderson, promoted and held fundraisers for her wing of the county party in violation of a state law that bars fundraising by lawmakers or political caucuses within 15 days before or after a special legislative session.

The Legislature met in special session from Nov. 12 to Nov. 16 to approve new state legislative and congressional district boundaries. On Nov. 13, during the redistricting session, Buck’s GOP group held a meeting at which Buck and fellow Henderson Republican Sen. Keith Pickard briefed leaders on the session via a videoconference from Carson City. Tickets to the event were $40.

The complaint filed with the state characterizes the event as a fundraiser for which Buck “not only accepted the contributions for the (party organization), but was actively soliciting them.” Pickard was named individually in a separate complaint for participating in the event.

Buck on Friday characterized the event as an informational breakfast

“Let’s just be clear: This wasn’t a fundraiser event. This was bacon and eggs, and this is just another frivolous attack,” she said. “This will be known as Bacon-and-Eggs-gate.”

Pickard called the complaints “obviously someone just trying to stir up some trouble” and “another attempt to create discord within the party.”

The complaint was filed by Natalie Thomas of Henderson. A woman answering the phone number listed for Thomas on the complaints filed with the state hung up on a reporter Friday.

The complaint against Buck also said she solicited donations for an early December Christmas party for the group on social media. Per the state law, the fundraising blackout period for the session would have ended Dec. 1.

The holiday party was scheduled for Dec. 3, but the complaint charges that Buck wrongfully promoted the event on Nov. 19, three days after the end of session.

The state party is aligned against the Buck faction. In a lawsuit filed last month, it seeks legal fees from the rival group arising from litigation over the disputed leadership election.

State GOP chairman Michael McDonald said Friday the state party was not behind the complaints but noted that he raised the issue publicly in a recent radio interview. He said the fundraising blackout law was “plain and simple.”

“They were fundraising for the the fake faction of the Clark County Republican Party,” McDonald said of the two lawmakers named in the complaint. “They can try to spin it however they want, but they were fundraising during the session.”

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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