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Social media post suggesting Lombardo took bribes draws backlash

Republicans lambasted the Nevada State Democratic Party over a social media post that suggested Gov. Joe Lombardo accepted bribes.

The Nevada Democratic Party created a post on X that combined a photo of Lombardo with a quoted post from another X user that said: “The bribes I took did not influence me to become evil. I was evil from the beginning and the bribes were merely a bonus.”

Nevada GOP legislators including Assemblyman Bert Gurr criticized the Democrats for what they called a “baseless bribery accusation” against the former Clark County sheriff and called it “unacceptable.”

“If anyone ever wonders why so many people dislike politics, this is a perfect example,” wrote Assemblywoman Melissa Hardy. “Baseless attacks and accusations have no place in politics.” Hardy called on the NV Dems to apologize to Lombardo if there is no proof.

The Nevada State Democratic Party said Wednesday that the post was deleted due to a copyright issue. The party provided the Las Vegas Review-Journal a copy of the email from a photographer asking for the photo to be removed.

In a Wednesday post on X, the Nevada State Democratic Party fired back, accusing the Nevada GOP of not understanding internet culture, twisting information to fit their agenda and blindly defending Lombardo.

“We shared a viral meme to call attention to Joe Lombardo’s long record of taking political donations from corporate special interests and then acting on their behalf, not Nevadans,” the party said in a statement to the Review-Journal.

The Nevada State Democratic Party criticized Lombardo for receiving large sums of campaign donations from real estate mogul Robert Bigelow, owner of Budget Suites of America, and then vetoing bills related to affordable housing. The party also criticized him for receiving campaign funds from pharmaceutical companies and then vetoing a bill on lowering prescription drug prices.

“Lombardo and his cronies are manufacturing fake outrage over a meme because they are desperate to distract voters from the harmful impacts of his unethical record siding with his donors at the expense of hardworking families struggling with the cost of housing and prescription drugs,” the party said in a statement.

Lombardo’s office declined to comment.

Stephen Bates, a journalism and media studies professor at UNLV whose research focuses on the First Amendment, said politicians serving the interests of their donors is what happens under current campaign finance law, and both parties are complicit. He does not think there is a strong case for the comment from the Nevada Democrats to be considered libelous.

Only statements of fact can be libelous, not statements of opinion, he said in an email to the Review-Journal. Words such as “bribe,” “extort,” and “corrupt” can be fact or opinion depending on the context, he said. The original social media post is a broad accusation with no specifics, is about an elected official and includes the opinion word “evil.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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