Updated September 25, 2023 - 1:15 pm
The Nye County Republican Party voted last month to have its executive committee members sign a nondisclosure agreement, in an effort to keep party business close to its chest.
According to Aug. 12 meeting minutes obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Nye County Republican Central Committee approved a motion 23-11 to have members sign a nondisclosure agreement to not discuss committee meetings and matters with the general public.
Vice Chairman Bob Barlics said that while the body voted for the measure, nobody is pushing it or moving on it.
“To me, it’s a nonissue,” Barlics said.
Bill Carns, an executive committee member who made the motion, told the Review-Journal that the county party is a private organization, and the goal is to keep the party’s business within the party.
The NDAs will prevent any leaking of the party’s strategies to elect conservatives, he said. If somebody signed an NDA and is accused of violating it, the executive committee will look and see what the violation was, Carns said.
“If we let all of these various strategies out there, then it hurts us,” he said.
Nondisclosure agreements are standard for most political organizations, he said, and Nye County was one of the few that doesn’t have one.
‘We have to protect it’
The wording of Nye County’s NDA is a direct adaptation of the same NDA employed by the Washoe County Republican Party, Carns said.
According to its bylaws, the Washoe County Republican Party has its central committee meeting members sign a nondisclosure agreement. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reached out to other county parties and could not find other counties implementing them.
Elko County Republican Party Chairman Lee Hoffman said his group has no NDA in place and is not considering it.
Clark County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Law said the idea for some members to sign NDAs was proposed last election cycle, but the county party hasn’t gotten around to implementing it. He’d have some members who have access to private information, such as membership data or candidate development information, sign a nondisclosure agreement.
“If it’s valuable, we have to protect it,” he said. “When it is time, we will use them.”
In 2020, the Nevada State Democratic Party asked site leaders for their caucuses to sign nondisclosure agreements to prevent them from speaking to the media, but neither the state party nor the Clark County party has executive board members sign NDAs, a spokesperson with the state party said.
Concerns raised by Republicans
But the move has sparked some concern among Republicans.
Tina Trenner, a former member of the Nye County Republican Party, said it was shocking that a freedom-loving person would do this.
Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, president of OnPoint Campaigns, said Republicans are supposed to be the party of the constitution, freedom of speech and advocates for an open and transparent government.
“This is just not the way leadership should be,” Mayo-DeRiso said. “If you have something controversial to say, say it at coffee or something. But don’t make your leaders sign it.”
Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, said he hasn’t made anyone sign NDAs for the Nevada GOP’s executive board, but he doesn’t think it’s a bad idea.
The late Democratic Sen. Harry Reid did something similar where a consultant who worked for the Democrats was not allowed to work for Republicans, McDonald said.
“Nye County is one of our strongest Republican counties,” McDonald said, adding that he respects what the county party does.
McDonald said he did not know about the Nye County Republican Party’s decision to have executive committee members sign NDAs. County parties run their own operations without the state party’s input, he said.
He also said it’s not a bad idea.
The chair of the Nye County Republican Party, Eric Murphy, did not return requests for comment.
Contact Jessica Hill at email@example.com.