Nevada Patriot: No, Joe Brown didn’t switch parties

Astute observers at Wednesday’s appearance at Nellis Air Force Base by President Barack Obama surely noticed an interesting character in the crowd of military personnel and Democrats.

Not far from Rep. Shelley Berkley, Rep. Dina Titus, County Commissioners Rory Reid and Tom Collins, Secretary of State Ross Miller, state treasurer Kate Marshall, state Controller Kim Wallin, and political insider Billy Vassiliadis, sat veteran Nevada GOP official Joe Brown.

No, Brown didn’t decide to switch parties. The retired member of the U.S. Marine Reserve is a founder of the Nevada Patriot Fund, a non-profit he helped form in 2003 that assists the families of military personnel killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’m loyal opposition,” Brown said, laughing later.

Brown, also a lobbyist, was headed to Carson City for the 2003 session of the Legislature when he read in the Review-Journal about Nevada service personnel from Sparks and Tonopah who had been killed. He met with Jerry Bussell, then the state’s head of Homeland Security, and decided on the spot to do something to help the families.

Working the hallways of the Legislature, Brown rounded up about $60,000 in pledges in 30 minutes. (that beats the record of most veteran legislators.) The Patriot Fund issues $12,000 checks to surviving spouses to help tide families over until insurance issues are settled, Brown says.

“We’ve been pretty successful,” Brown says.

To learn more about the fund: nevadapatriotfund.org.

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