The Nevada Republican Party on Monday defended its vote to censure Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, the only member of the GOP who currently holds statewide office.
By a vote of 226-212, Republican central committee members meeting in Carson City on Saturday voted to censure Cegavske for her handling of the 2020 election, alleging that she failed to deal with what the party claimed was widespread voter fraud.
Cegavske shot back over the weekend with a statement that said party members were censuring her “… simply because they are disappointed with the outcome of the 2020 election.”
“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,” the statement reads.
On Monday, the party replied with a statement of its own: “Secretary of State Cegavske’s irresponsible communications regarding the fairness of the election continue to this day as she asserts that the election was not ‘wrought with fraud’ although her office acknowledges the receipt and ongoing investigation of more than 120,000 voters provided by the Nevada Republican Party’s Election Integrity Violation Reports.
“The Nevada Republican Party believes in integrity and the rule of law and would never ask our elected officials to ‘put their thumb on the scale.’ ”
Cegavske has said that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and her office has said, after a review, it is investigating fewer than 4,000 of the more than 122,000 complaints filed with her office by Republicans.
Cegavske — who served in the Nevada Assembly from 1996 to 2002 and the state Senate from 2002 to 2014 — gave up her seat to win election as secretary of state. Although she was known as a conservative Republican during her legislative service, she has virtually abstained from partisan politics since becoming the state’s chief elections officer.
Cegavske is term-limited and cannot run again for her current post.
In 2018, she became the only statewide elected Republican, losing Clark County but winning every other county in the state. Both U.S. senators and all other constitutional officers are now Democrats.
But Cegavske’s long service in the party did not save her from allegations that she didn’t prevent voter fraud from occurring during the 2020 election.
The three-page censure resolution, complete with 14 endnotes, says that former Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Donald Trump campaign lawyer Jesse Binnall publicly alleged voter fraud in November and that Binnall testified under oath to the alleged fraud before the U.S. Senate in December. It complains about election mistakes allegedly made by Clark County and recounts Cegavske’s remarks about the election being accurate and reliable.
The resolution doesn’t mention the fact that a lawsuit filed in Nevada over the results of the 2020 election was rejected by courts up to and including the Nevada Supreme Court. A Review-Journal investigation into fraud allegations similarly found few, if any, irregularities that could have swayed the results of the election. Additionally, though former President Trump lost the state by more than 33,000 votes, Republicans won back a seat in the state Senate and three in the Assembly, denying majority Democrats a supermajority in the lower house.
Still, the party laid the blame for the alleged fraud at Cegavske’s feet.
“The Nevada Republican Central Committee censures Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske for her disregard of her oath of office by failing to investigate election fraud, her dismissive public statements regarding election integrity concerns, and her failure to ensure compliance with Nevada and federal election law, these actions being at least partially causal in November 2020 election irregularities and fraud,” the censure resolution reads.
In addition to the fact that Cegavske has said her office is investigating some of the complaints submitted by Republicans, her statement directly contradicts the resolution in another way.
“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,” Cegavske’s statement reads. “Regardless of the censure vote by the Nevada Republican Party Central Committee, I will continue in my efforts to oversee secure elections in Nevada and to restore confidence in our elections, confidence which has been destroyed by those falsely claiming the 2020 general election produced widespread fraud.”
Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com