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Nevada Republican Party seeks legal fees from Clark County GOP faction

Updated November 26, 2021 - 5:47 pm

The Nevada Republican Party wants one of two warring Clark County Republican Party factions to fork over money to pay for legal fees stemming from a lawsuit filed last month.

The state party’s request, filed Tuesday in Humboldt County District Court, follows that court’s ruling against the Clark County GOP faction led by state Sen. Carrie Buck, R-Henderson. Buck’s faction had filed a lawsuit with the court in an attempt to stop the state party from holding a leadership election.

According to the motion, the state party wants the Buck faction to pay nearly $5,900 to cover the legal fees that the state party incurred in the case.

It’s another thread in the legal tangle that has come from a months-long power struggle over leadership roles in the Clark County Republican Party.

“This entire matter was brought by what can only be described as a rogue entity parading around as political organization whose leadership has no idea what the (Clark County Republican Central Committee) actually is or how it operates,” the Nevada Republican Party’s motion states.

The state party argues the court should force Buck’s faction to pay up because Nevada law encourages district courts to award legal fees to the party of a lawsuit that defeats frivolous claims, and because the case meets the legal precedent for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees.

Neither Buck nor the attorney representing her group could immediately be reached for comment.

The dispute between the Clark County GOP factions stems from a July meeting that ended without the election of a new leadership team. Days later, a group of members called the meeting back to order, and those who attended the follow-up gathering elected Jesse Law as chairman.

Acting party leadership at the time considered the follow-up meeting fraudulent and filed a lawsuit against Law and his team weeks later.

Clark County District Judge Susan Johnson eventually threw out the lawsuit with prejudice, saying she did not have the authority to make a ruling in a political party’s internal dispute.

The side that filed the lawsuit against Law’s group later elected Buck as its chairwoman. The group has since filed an appeal of Johnson’s ruling with the Nevada Supreme Court.

Buck’s faction filed the lawsuit against the Nevada Republican Party in Humboldt County on Oct. 8. It accused the state party of trying to hold its election before the leadership dispute in the Clark County Republican Party was settled.

How Clark County would have been represented at the meeting depended on who was in control of the local party. Buck’s faction wanted to halt the meeting until the proper members and delegates could be determined, according to the lawsuit.

Law contends the dispute is already settled because his group is recognized by the state GOP as the legitimate Clark County Republican Party. Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald has argued that Johnson ruled the county party’s members properly elected Law.

Buck’s faction has argued that Johnson’s ruling only found the court did not have the authority to intervene in the dispute.

Humboldt County District Judge Michael Montero threw out the Buck faction’s complaint with prejudice, saying the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter.

McDonald was reelected to lead the state GOP at the meeting in Winnemucca.

The opposing Clark County factions are now arguing in a separate court case over which side should have control of the party’s bank account and other assets.

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

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