Nevada GOP censures elections official who defended results

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LAS VEGAS (AP) – Nevada’s Republican Party voted to censure the secretary of state, accusing her of violating her oath of office by failing to fully investigate allegations of fraud in the 2020 election that the party presented to her.

Barbara Cegavske, the only Republican statewide office holder in Nevada, said members of her party are disappointed with the election results and believe fraud occurred “despite a complete lack of evidence to support that belief.”

Cegavske, who has overseen elections in the state since 2014, has repeatedly defended the results as reliable and accurate despite attacks from President Donald Trump and other Republicans.

Nevada is among the states where former Trump sought to subvert results from the November 2020 election with lawsuits and conspiracy theories. President Joe Biden defeated Trump in the Western swing state by 2 percentage points, or nearly 34,000 votes.

“Regrettably, members of my own political party have decided to censure me simply because they are disappointed with the outcome of the 2020 election. While I have been loyal to the Nevada Republican Party during my over two decades as an elected official, I have been unwavering in my commitment to oversee elections and administer Nevada’s election laws in a neutral, nonpartisan manner,” Cegavske said in a statement Sunday. “My job is to carry out the duties of my office as enacted by the Nevada Legislature, not carry water for the state GOP or put my thumb on the scale of democracy. Unfortunately, members of my own party continue to believe the 2020 general election was wrought with fraud – and that somehow I had a part in it – despite a complete lack of evidence to support that belief.”

A GOP official who was unauthorized to speak publicly confirmed to The Associated Press that the measure passed on a 126-112 vote by the party’s governing members at a meeting in the state capital, Carson City.

Jessica Hanson, the executive director of the state GOP, sent a statement from the party noting that the censure vote on Saturday “passed narrowly” and said it occurred following “a healthy debate” over the election.

“The Nevada Republican Party holds our elected officials to a high standard. As such, this weekend the party sent a clear message that our officials must work for the people and we demand that our representatives at all levels of government uphold their Oath of Office,” the party said.

It wasn’t clear from a copy of the censure resolution what punishment the censure entailed. Hanson did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the punishment.

In March, Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald presented four boxes to Cegavske’s office that he and other Republican leaders said contained proof of more than 120,000 instances of voter fraud.

But Cegavske said after reviewing the reports, there were only 3,963 Election Integrity Violation reports submitted. Her office said a number of those reports were already under investigation by her office and it was reviewing the others reports to determine if an investigation was warranted.

The secretary of state allows people to fill out the two-page Election Integrity Violation forms when they believe they have witnessed people breaking election laws, which staff subsequently investigate.

The censure vote was first reported by The Nevada Independent.

Cegavske is among a handful of Republicans who have been censured by their own parties in recent months after finding themselves at odds with Trump and his supporters. State Republican parties in North Carolina and Louisiana voted in February to censure U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Bill Cassidy for their votes to convict Trump at his second impeachment trial. Arizona’s Republican Party in January voted to censure Sen. John McCain’s widow Cindy McCain and former Sen. Jeff Flake, both of whom endorsed Biden, and Gov. Doug Ducey, who signed a certification of Biden’s victory in that state.

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Follow Michelle Price at twitter.com/michellelprice

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