One of the big national political stories of early 2021 has been the saga in many states of ultra-MAGA folk seeking to stigmatize Republican elected officials for their refusal to accept and abet Donald Trump’s fight to overturn his 2020 defeat. In Georgia, for example, GOP secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has had a big bull’s-eye painted on his back by the former president, who is supporting a powerful effort to defeat him in a 2022 primary.
But this dynamic has taken an especially lurid turn in another 2020 battleground state, Nevada, where it appears members and supporters of the racist, sexist all-male organization the Proud Boys might have been pivotal in a successful bid to censure Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.
Like Raffensperger, Cegavske certified a Joe Biden win in her state and subsequently rejected claims that she had failed to investigate voter-fraud allegations. The state GOP’s central committee duly censured her on April 12.
Amid bitter recriminations over this intraparty fight, some Nevada Republicans are now demanding an investigation into evidence that the Proud Boys and like-minded extremists might have played a pivotal role in the censure and have been attempting to take over the party in the state’s largest county (Clarke, where Las Vegas is located). The Las Vegas Review-Journal suggests a link between the censure vote and a brewing county-party coup:
The group contemplating election to leadership has planned its movements through an online social media forum soaked in what existing county party leadership deemed antisemitic content while promoting Israel publicly.
They provided deciding votes in the state party’s censure of Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, having allegedly swelled the ranks of the state party’s central committee just hours before because she refused to support the false narrative that fraud decided last year’s election.
Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo has fingered the key extremist leaders by name:
[W]hat counts at this point as “mainstream” Republicans are battling for control of the Clark County party with members of the local Proud Boys or at least extremist leaders associated with the Proud Boys. Three key leaders of the latter group are Rudy Clai, Matt Anthony and Paul Laramie …
According to local GOP officials and seemingly confirmed by reputable news accounts, these three and the faction they lead have issued a number of threats against local party officials, particularly female party officials.
Anticipating a coup attempt, the Clark County GOP canceled a meeting scheduled for May 25 and echoed calls for an investigation into Proud Boy infiltration of the party. But now, leaders of the Washoe County (Reno) party have joined their colleagues in Las Vegas, along with the GOP state senate caucus, in demanding details of the Cegavske censure vote, the Washington Post reports:
“We need to find out who attended, who paid for them to attend, and what impact they had on this censuring of Barbara,” state Sen. Carrie Buck (R) said in an interview. If the claims of the self-described Proud Boys member are true, she said, “of course the current leadership of the state [party] should resign.”
Nationally, the Proud Boys have been the tip of the MAGA spear, often eagerly engaging in street fights with antifa and other leftist groups and loudly espousing extremist views on culture and politics. As the Review-Journal noted, “The U.S. Department of Justice has charged several Proud Boys with conspiracy and other accusations related to the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol.” The local affiliate in Nevada seemed to be involved in a website promoting white-supremacist views and treating mainstream Republicans with contempt.
Although most of the news from Nevada right now stems from mainstream Republicans fighting back against Proud Boy influence, it’s significant that the pro-Trump cause in the state might have invited such out-there allies into the RINO-hunting purge they undertook. It says a lot that you can’t tell the thugs from the regular Trump fans without an actual investigation.