Power Struggle Roils Nevada Democrats

     LAS VEGAS (CN) — The Nevada Democratic Party made sudden rules changes to keep control of the state party after its convention Saturday, eight Bernie Sanders supporters claim in court.
     The Nevada Democratic Party said the lawsuit is “purely political and has no basis in law” and would not comment further.
     Las Vegas attorney Robert Kern, who filed the complaint, is among its eight plaintiffs. He said the plaintiffs have the votes to win control of the state party’s executive board, and want to push the state party in a more “progressive” direction.
     Kern, lead plaintiff Aaron Jones et al. say the state party published its “final election rules” on its website, with an April 29 filing deadline for executive board and central committee nominees.
     Seven of the eight plaintiffs, including Kern, say they filed applications as candidates for the executive board, and six filed to be candidates to be national committee members before the April 29 deadline.
     Unbeknownst to them, they say, on April 13 the state party moved the filing deadline up to April 25, did not inform most of its members, and posted the new rules on April 16.
     The party sent nomination forms to all delegates via email and included information on the filing deadline, but Kern says 82 percent of the emails were sent before the filing deadline was revised.
     “With no notification of the rule change, only party insiders had access to the information that April 25th was the deadline,” Kern says in the complaint in Clark County Court.
     Kern said the change came soon after a Sanders supporter circulated an email saying the state party’s more progressive element had the votes to take control of the executive board.
     Within about 12 hours of that email’s delivery, Kern says in the complaint, the Nevada Democratic Party met, changed the filing deadline to April 25, and did not announce the change.
     State party Chairwoman Roberta Lange said the “confusion” over the filing deadline was caused by someone who distributed the proposed rules before the party finalized them on April 13, Kern says.
     Kern, who sued on May 5, said court inefficiencies delayed its processing until Tuesday, May 10. The state convention is Saturday.
     Kern said the complaint has nothing to do with the delegates for Democratic Party presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
     He said the state party is controlled by “centrist” Democrats, and Sanders supporters want the state party to move in a more “progressive” direction.
     Clinton won the Nevada caucuses with 53 percent of the vote to Sanders’ 47 percent, giving Clinton 20 delegates and Sanders 15.
     Although Clinton won the Nevada caucus, Kern said, the state party has more Sanders supporters than Clinton supporters and they were poised to win control of its executive board and change its political direction.
     Kern said the state party seats its central committee members for life, in violation of its own bylaws.
     He asked the court to order the Nevada Democratic Party to hold elections for every spot on its central committee and to honor executive board and central committee nominee applications received by the original April 29 deadline.
     Defendants include state party Chairwoman Lange and Executive Director Zach Zaragoza, who are accused of bad faith and breach of contract.

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