GOP officials seek probe of Proud Boys ties to censure vote

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Republicans in Nevada are calling for an investigation into a vote last month to censure the GOP secretary of state after allegations emerged that the balloting was swayed by activists with ties to the far-right Proud Boys extremist group.

The Clark County Republican Party, representing Las Vegas and the most populated part of the state, along with Republicans in the state Senate, called for a review of the vote after a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal alleged the Nevada Republican Party added about 40 people, including activists with extremist ties, to its membership the day of the censure vote to ensure the measure passed.

“News reports that state party leaders may have formed a relationship with members of the organization known as the Proud Boys to sway the censure vote of a public official is profoundly concerning,” Senate Republicans said in their statement. “If there is a determination that any member or employee of the Nevada Republican Party conspired with these individuals or had knowledge of any wrongdoing in the party vote, Senate Republicans call for their immediate removal and resignation.”

They called for the Nevada Republican Party to review and disclose who attended the censure vote of Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

The Nevada Republican Party disputed the allegations and the statements made by their fellow party members as “slanderous lies.”

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald told the newspaper that he was not involved in the censure and did not recruit anyone to participate in the vote. He also said he was unaware of and did not condone any hateful messages.

When reached Monday, McDonald declined to answer questions from The Associated Press and referred them to the state party’s attorney Brian Hardy. Hardy did not immediately return a message left with his office.

Cegavske was censured at a meeting of the state party’s members on a 126-112 vote for “failing to investigate election fraud” and for her public statements dismissing allegations of fraud in the November election lodged by her own party.

She has repeatedly defended the election results as reliable and accurate despite attacks from President Donald Trump and other Republicans. President Joe Biden defeated Trump in the Western swing state by 2 percentage points, or nearly 34,000 votes.

Cegavske declined through a spokeswoman to comment.

At a news conference Monday morning, Clark County Republicans announced they had barred seven activists, including some of those alleged to have participated in the censure vote, from becoming county party members because of their reported ties to the Proud Boys and a social media account that posted anti-Semitic and racist content.

“I’ve worked very hard to have a very open and inclusive group,” Clark County Republican Party Chair David Sajdak said. “We welcome everyone that is reasonable and (a) decent human being that treats each other with respect. I will never tolerate racist or hateful speech in attacking other people and human beings in this nature.”

Stephen Silberkraus, vice chair of the Clark County Republican Party, said the activists had made attacks online against female elected officials, including Cegavske.

He said the county party had permanently barred anyone involved in the Proud Boys from membership, along with “anyone who traffics in intolerance or hateful, anti-Semitic and racist ideology.”

Silberkraus said the county party also canceled a Tuesday night meeting, citing concerns that members of the Proud Boys planned to disrupt it and harass party members.

The Proud Boys are a male-only group of neo-fascists who describe themselves as “western chauvinists,” and have been known to incite street violence with counterprotesters.

Some of the activists barred from membership filed a lawsuit against the county party and state GOP last week seeking to block the meeting and challenge their denied membership.

Attorney Adam Fulton, who is representing the activists, said he was collecting information about the claims made against his clients. He declined to comment on whether his clients had ties to the Proud Boys.

Though the state GOP was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, McDonald issued a statement sympathetic to the activists, saying they had made “serious allegations of discrimination” against the county party.

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Associated Press writer Ken Ritter contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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