Nevada GOP secretary of state nominee funded by election deniers and QAnon supporters

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Republican Jim Marchant has received donations from wealthy conspiracy theorists who insist that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Former Nevada state Rep. Jim Marchant, an election-denying Republican running for Nevada secretary of state, has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com and a key figure in former President Donald Trump's ongoing campaign to cast doubt on and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Byrne, who attended a meeting on Dec. 18, 2020, at which Trump and others discussed ways to overturn the election results, gave $5,000 to Marchant's campaign, according to campaign finance records.

Byrne is being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems after he accused the company, a manufacturer of voting equipment, of being involved in a conspiracy to steal the election from Trump. Dominion begins its filing:

After blowing up his career at Overstock by having an affair with a Russian spy, Patrick Byrne soon found himself a new pet project: promoting the false narrative that the 2020 election had been stolen. In fact, as Byrne has publicly admitted, he had already committed to that narrative three months before the election took place. After the election, Byrne manufactured and promoted fake evidence to convince the world that the 2020 election had been stolen as part of a massive international conspiracy.

Dominion is asking for a judgment of $1.73 billion.

Byrne told New York magazine writer Kerry Howley that he has spent $20 million to convince people that the 2020 election was stolen, including helping to finance a recount in Arizona that concluded that President Joe Biden won the election.

Cisco Aguilar, the Democratic nominee for Nevada secretary of state, called Marchant an "extremist who has declared loudly and often that he believes our president wasn't duly elected." 

Marchant, who served one term in the Nevada state Assembly before losing reelection to Democrat Shea Backus in 2018, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2020, losing to Democrat Steven Horsford by 5 points.

After he lost, Marchant filed a lawsuit claiming he was a victim of fraud, which was ultimately dismissed after Marchant didn't produce any evidence to support his claim.

Marchant, who as secretary of state would oversee elections in Nevada, is an organizer of the right-wing America First Secretary of State Coalition, which says that its mission is to "Establish meaningful conservative America First election reforms for not only the candidates but also for the current Secretaries of State throughout the country" and "Promote and establish messaging that Secretary of State elections all across the country are a priority and are currently our most important elections because they are predominantly responsible for the election process in each state." It says that its goals are "1. Voter ID; 2. Paper Ballots; 3. Eliminate Mail-In Ballots; Keep Traditional Absentee Ballots; 4. Single Day Voting; 5. Unfettered Poll Watch Reforms; 6. Aggressive Voter Roll Clean-Up."

He's one of a large number of election-denying Republicans running for office around the country. Experts warn that giving them power over the conduct of elections could lead, as one told the Washington Post of a potential win by Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, to chaos: "The systemwide protections to ensure fair and free elections will be severely challenged. ... The dam will burst."

Marchant has spread the baseless conspiracy theory that elections in Nevada have been fraudulent for over a decade, saying without any evidence at a June event in Wisconsin, "The people of Nevada have not elected anybody since 2006, they've been installed by the deep state cabal."

He has also been associated with the QAnon movement of conspiracy theorists who claim that, as a poll about it conducted in 2020 stated it, "A group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media." The Guardian reported that Marchant told an audience at the QAnon-linked "Patriot Double Down" convention in October 2021 that he was recruited to run for secretary of state on the day after Election Day in 2020 by a QAnon influencer who goes by the name Juan O Savin.

The convention was hosted by Las Vegas hotel owner Don Ahern. Ahern, who is facing fines for hosting Trump campaign events that violated pandemic restrictions, gave $10,000 to Marchant's campaign.

Marchant claimed before the convention in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he didn't know the Ahern hotel event was a QAnon conference. He said he "met the people that are putting it on briefly one time and I can't even remember their names" and claimed that he was aware of QAnon, "but I don't know what it is."

Byrne and Ahern are not the only right-wing conspiracy theorists who have donated to Marchant.

Election denier Robert Beadles, a wealthy cryptocurrency investor, contributed $5,000 to Marchant's campaign. Beadles is also an investor in Gab, a social media site that's become a haven for people spouting antisemitic rhetoric, including Robert Bowers, the man accused of killing 11 people in a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. The Reno Gazette Journal reported that Beadles recently posted: "God Bless all of us #purebloods who continue to say hell no to these demon shots! Stay strong Patriots!" using a hashtag employed by anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists.  

Norman Rogers, an climate change denier with a history of making racist comments gave contributions totaling $15,000 to the Marchant campaign and a PAC registered to Marchant. Rogers is on the board of directors of the CO2 Coalition, a group that falsely claims that global warming will benefit agriculture and celebrates carbon dioxide emissions.

Nevada is a swing state that Biden carried by less than 3 points in 2020. 

Republicans have performed well here in past midterm elections, including in 2014, when they won the governor's mansion and three of the state's four House seats.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.