Alex Constantine - November 13, 2022
GOP donor trying to reshape Nevada politics pushes radical conspiracy theories, repeatedly cites antisemitic propaganda
Editor’s Note: This is part of ongoing coverage made possible through a partnership between KUNR Public Radio and The Nevada Independent focused on the influence of the baseless claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged by massive voter fraud, popularly referred to as the “Big Lie.”
This story was also produced as part of APM Reports’ public media accountability initiative, which supports investigative reporting at local media outlets around the country.
In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Robert Beadles logged onto a video-streaming platform and blamed former President Donald Trump’s electoral defeat on an international Jewish conspiracy.
The chaotic events of the day, he said, were choreographed by outside forces, not Trump supporters. Beadles pointed to the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — a long-debunked antisemitic pamphlet claiming that Jews are conspiring to take over the world.
“Just like the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ when you infiltrate every single layer of civilization of a society, they put their people in these prominent positions to keep the information from leaking out or to keep their narrative in place,” Beadles said. “And we’re seeing that.”
During more than 175 hours of recorded livestream footage reviewed by The Nevada Independent, KUNR Public Radio and American Public Media, Beadles went far beyond repeatedly citing the “Protocols.” He also claimed the 2020 election was stolen, railed against COVID restrictions and vaccines, and perpetuated outlandish narratives about Black communities.
“The undeniable truth is that neither slavery, nor Jim Crow, nor the harshest racism, has decimated the Black family the way the welfare state has,” Beadles said during a 2021 livestream.
Plenty of far-right activists spout antisemitic comments, share conspiracy theories and complain about rigged elections from behind a keyboard.
What makes Beadles different is that he is using his money to sow doubts about the election system in Nevada’s most significant battleground county. He has tried to remove people from power who disagree with his worldview and boost hand-selected extremist candidates who have openly questioned the 2020 election results. Beadles also invests in and promotes platforms such as Pilled.net and Gab, which have become online gathering spaces for antisemites, political extremists and conspiracy theorists.
Beadles’ conspiracy theories center around an almost omnipresent “they” — broad enough to include any number of targets but referring at times to a cabal, globalists, elites, members of the Chinese Communist Party, and prominent Jewish families, among others. And while he often tells his audience to take their country back peacefully, Beadles has also supported executing public health officials responding to the COVID pandemic.
Born and raised in California, Beadles moved to Nevada in 2020. His debut on the state’s political scene came in October 2021, when he threatened members of the Washoe County school board during a public meeting: “God has blessed me, and I have a shit-ton of money, and I’m going to do everything I fucking can … to remove you.”
Since then, he has made a name for himself as an election denier, far-right provocateur and prominent GOP donor who has given more than $1 million over the past two years to Republican candidates up and down the ballot. He charged into Nevada Republican Party politics, using his power and influence to win a seat on the Washoe GOP executive committee and push the party’s agenda to more extreme positions.
And Beadles is a close ally of Reno attorney and one-time gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert, funding the failed candidate’s recount of Nevada’s primary and backing an unsuccessful lawsuit alleging massive election fraud in the 2022 primary election.
Beadles declined an interview request for this story. He said he would agree to an interview only if the full unedited version would be posted prominently alongside the story. When told that publishing the full interview was a possibility but only if it met editorial standards, Beadles declined the interview request. He also didn’t answer 65 written questions sent to him by email. Instead, he responded to the questions by quoting a Bible verse (Nehemiah 6:3) and wrote that his “great work” would “not be furthered in any way” by agreeing to an interview or answering questions.
In numerous public statements and online postings, Beadles said he is motivated by patriotism and a desire to see Christians at every level of government.
Though he champions Christian beliefs, he’s appeared on livestreams with figures who don’t necessarily follow the Golden Rule. Beadles was a guest on a podcast run by Steve Bannon, the former political strategist to President Donald Trump who was recently indicted for money laundering. He has hosted anti-government extremists and Christian nationalists on his livestreams along with software programmer John McAfee — who faced tax evasion charges and died in 2021— and a 2022 candidate for Congress accused of inflating his military service. Beadles has also promoted the work of Sandy Hook denier Alex Jones and others peddling far-right conspiracy theories.
As part of his effort to reshape politics in the Silver State, Beadles has pushed a scorched earth campaign to remove his political foes and replace them with candidates who share his views. He targeted the only Black elected official serving in Washoe County for her support of a social justice curriculum in schools and preventive measures related to the COVID pandemic.
Beadles’ efforts gained ground following the Nevada 2022 primary election when he helped oust sitting Republican Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey in favor of a candidate who denies the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
“There’s a lot of distrust with government … And so when you prey upon people’s fears, and utilize that as a platform, that’s what really motivated people,” Lucey said in an interview. “I think [Beadles is] more dangerous than people realize.”
“There's a lot of distrust with government … And so when you prey upon people's fears, and utilize that as a platform, that's what really motivated people. I think [Beadles is] more dangerous than people realize.”
— Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey
‘Rags to success’
Beadles’ path to politics started in California’s Central Valley.
A 2010 profile in a local newspaper described it as a “rags to success story” — Beadles says he relied on government assistance after high school before establishing a construction company and several real-estate ventures in the Lodi area.
He ran for California’s 11th Congressional District seat in 2010, painting himself as an anti-establishment candidate who reportedly “lit into” the incumbent at a candidate forum, “calling him a liar that isn’t looking out for his constituents and is in fact hurting us instead of helping us.”
Beadles supported his bid for office with his own money, loaning his campaign $80,000. He dropped out of the primary after a rival business owner accused him of stealing construction supplies. Beadles sued for libel, but the court sided against him. It marked his first and only foray into the political arena as a candidate.
As he gained wealth through his construction and real estate ventures, Beadles also established a software company and began dabbling in cryptocurrency investments around 2011. Later, he launched his YouTube channel — “Crypto Beadles” — “to provide guidance to viewers through easy-to-understand videos” and in 2012 formed Monarch Wallet, an app offering cryptocurrency services. He also runs Splash Factory, a digital marketing company that uses blockchain technology.
Because his businesses are privately held, Beadles’ net worth is difficult to determine. But he claimed he was making “millions of dollars a month” in a booklet he self-published in 2019.
Beadles told the Reno Gazette Journal that he first came to Reno with his father-in-law, a longshoreman and merchant mariner who “loved the gambling.” Beadles married his wife, Nicole, at Reno’s Candlelight Wedding Chapel in 1995, when both were 17 and expecting their first son.
In 2020, he made Reno his home.
Between May and December of that year, he purchased 26 properties in the area for $10.2 million, including a $1.6 million home in Reno’s wealthy Sommerset neighborhood and another 21 he rents through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 housing program, according to county property records and contracts with the local housing authorities.
“All of our properties are brand new, like single-family-type homes, beautiful half-million and million-dollar homes that we rent out to Section 8,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal. “I think we’re one of the few, if not only in Reno, that do that. Most [Section 8 homes] are crap holes.”
Property records show that Beadles’ most expensive rental property was purchased for $938,000, split between two units. The majority of the houses he bought in 2020 were between $300,000 and $420,000.
In a 2009 self-published book, Here’s What You Do!, Beadles instructed readers to buy investment properties and rent them to tenants who get rental assistance through the local Section 8 program. Beadles explained the government funding gives landlords a “guaranteed income source.”
“Buy [a home], putting down 20 percent out of pocket; Section 8 it; collect the cash flow; and repeat. It truly is that simple,” he wrote.
In his book, published shortly after Barack Obama became president, Beadles also warned readers of an impending financial collapse that he alleged would lead to a rise in socialism or communism.
“What I’m about to say may seem, again, crazy, but history has shown this happening repeatedly,” Beadles wrote. “When a currency or government collapses, the people of the land are typically thinned out by force, with a dictator arising and some sort of communism or socialism taking form.”
He advocated for readers to purchase gold, silver and real estate — tangibles that would not be lost if the dollar crashed — and prepare themselves by keeping rations on hand and storing other necessities.
“Have a year’s worth of rations of food, water, fuel, guns and ammo, just in case. Better safe than sorry,” he wrote.
‘The storm definitely is upon us’
Before the 2020 election, Beadles’ livestream platform, “Crypto Beadles,” centered mostly on business, financial advice and self-help, with episodes titled “Bitcoin Is Not a Scam,” “How Do I Become Successful?” and “How to Build Self Discipline?”
In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, however, Beadles began focusing more on Trump and politics. He promoted conspiracy theories claiming Biden is a puppet for greater forces and used slogans from the QAnon movement, such as “the storm definitely is upon us,” and “Team 17” (referring to the letter Q, the seventeenth letter of the alphabet).
“I always go back to the document from 1905, the learned ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ ... It's based and founded on hundreds, if not thousands, of years of tactics on how you overthrow governments and how you would do exactly this: Layer yourself in every part of government to essentially destroy it from within.”
QAnon began in obscure online forums in 2017 but crossed into the mainstream over the course of Trump’s presidency. The movement asserts that Trump is fighting a Satanic cabal of pedophilic Democrats and wealthy elites.
After Beadles livestreams his conversations with followers, he repackages the content as on-demand videos and podcasts on multiple platforms. But his rhetoric goes beyond his own channels.
In March, he explained his worldview to far-right podcaster Sean G. Turnbull.
“When you look at the cabal type, and what happens to everybody underneath because of their decisions, it’s satanic,” he said. “It’s just good versus evil. It goes back thousands of years: You’ve got people that worship Lucifer, and you’ve got people that worship Christ, and they’ve been in a battle this entire time.”
In a 2021 livestream, Beadles also claimed there is little evidence showing slavery and racial discrimination’s legacy had negative effects on Black communities.
“The bottom line is that the Black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second hundred years,” he said.
Beadles has also expressed narratives that Asian American communities have criticized as offensive, calling COVID the “Chinese flu” and a “China-caused crisis” while ranting against government-implemented restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID. He alleged that the medical system is focused more on money-making schemes than protecting public health, and said he had friends who died after receiving the COVID vaccine (reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there is no link between COVID vaccines and deaths).
In social media posts on Gab, Beadles has bragged about his status as a “pureblood,” or someone who is not vaccinated against COVID. In one livestream, he stated that COVID treatment protocols were just ways for the medical community to kill people for profit — a claim debunked by public health professionals.
A screenshot of Robert Beadles' Gab post from Mar. 5, 2022, where he bragged about his status as a "pureblood."
Though his conspiracy theories appear disparate, an underlying theme in many of his writings and communications is an intense focus on the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
The “Protocols” is a century-old fabricated document that recycles ancient hateful myths about European Jewish communities and accuses them of plotting world domination. Since its publication, the “Protocols” have been used as a tool to persecute Jews, including during the Holocaust.
Beadles discussed the “Protocols” in at least 12 livestreams last year, often bringing the subject up multiple times. He even urged listeners to read the “Protocols” for themselves in another video stream from January 2021 and dismissed evidence that they are fabrications.
Beadles brought up the “Protocols” again the following month while claiming the election was stolen from Trump by the “Deep State,” typically believed to be influential members of society involved in manipulating or controlling the government. Many supporters of Trump assert that the “Deep State” worked to undermine Trump’s presidency.
“I always go back to the document from 1905, the learned ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’” he said. “It’s based and founded on hundreds, if not thousands, of years of tactics on how you overthrow governments and how you would do exactly this: Layer yourself in every part of government to essentially destroy it from within.”
Beadles has been citing antisemitic conspiracy theories since at least 2009. In the introduction to his book, Here’s What You Do!, Beadles discussed the Rothschild family, a longstanding target of antisemitic conspiracy theories.
“Theorists also say that the Rothschild family secretly runs this world. It is openly reported that Amsel Rothschild has said, ‘Give me control of the economics of a country, and I care not who makes her laws,’” Beadles wrote.
The Rothschilds are a European Jewish family involved in the banking industry, who, for centuries, have been accused of secretly controlling the government and the economy. Beadles references these myths in his book, saying that Amsel Rothschild has directly influenced economic policy.
“Forbiddenknowledge.com says that his descendants meet twice daily in London to dictate to the world what the price of gold will be, as well as what the Fed will do with America’s finances,” Beadles wrote. “The same theorists say the Rothschilds worship Satan and that they booked a front-row seat to 9/11, watching the whole thing happen from luxury suites across the way.”
At the end of the book’s introduction, Beadles wrote that he neither agrees nor disagrees with any of the conspiracy theories he cited. Nonetheless, he devoted the first three paragraphs of the introduction to conspiracy theories involving the Rothschild family.
“I have no proof, nor do conspiracy theorists that make such claims,” he wrote. “After all, a good conspiracy is one without proof: otherwise, it would be fact.”
Beadles has also used his social media platform to blame an unidentified “they” or “them” for a medley of problems. The pronouns can be substituted for any race, ethnicity or group.
And Beadles displays that tactic during in-person forums; he has not referred to the “Protocols” or Rothschild conspiracy theories at any public events. In a recent interview, Beadles said he would have preferred to stay private.
“The only reason you know my name is because of all the corruption in this county,” Beadles told the Reno News & Review. “I don’t want to be doing [political activism]. It’s the last thing in the world I want to be doing. … This is my last-ditch effort to save the country.”
Robert Beadles outside the Washoe County Registrar of Voter's office during Nevada's primary elections on June 14, 2022. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)
‘We need Christians in charge’
As Beadles spoke more openly about his political beliefs and extremist ideology, various mainstream social media platforms — including LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter — shut down his accounts.
But the bans did not stop him. Instead, Beadles moved into other spaces, taking his livestream to far-right microblogging sites, including Gab.
Gab gained national attention in 2018 after the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter in Pittsburgh announced his planned attack on the site. Prominent Republicans running in 2022, including Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, have sought to distance themselves from Gab CEO and founder Andrew Torba and Gab.
The Anti-Defamation League has called Gab a “haven for antisemites, extremists and conspiracy theorists.”
Beadles frequently brags about being an early investor in the platform and uses it prolifically. On the livestream, Beadles spoke with Torba about Gab, describing it as the “most censored startup in the history … of startups.”
“Everybody should be able to just, you know, converse and talk freely amongst each other. And basically just debate each other’s viewpoints if they want to debate or just talk about the weatherman or the sports [sic] or whatever,” Beadles said.
“When Christians refuse to get into office or work for the local government we can quickly see how the last people in the world we want to have power over us, get it.”
Beadles shares Torba’s dedication to advancing the far-right evangelical movement. In numerous online forums, he makes it clear that electing Christians is not just about getting members of the faith into office.
“When Christians refuse to get into office or work for the local government we can quickly see how the last people in the world we want to have power over us, get it,” Beadles wrote in a blog post in February 2022. “The bottom line is we need Christians in charge.”
He regularly uses his livestreams to promote other Christian nationalist influencers. Bobby Piton, a QAnon-supporting, failed U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois, has been a regular guest on Beadles’ livestreams. During one interview, Piton claimed Christians were being “persecuted.”
“We’re in the middle of World War Three, whether you like it or not. It may not be with guns and there might not be bodies on the battlefield, like there were in wars in the past,” Piton said. “But this is an ideological war of Satanists against Christians and other religions.”
“Well said, so many different things that you just nailed right there,” he said.
Frederick Clarkson, a senior research analyst focused on religious extremism for the nonprofit Political Research Associates which investigates right-wing extremism, says beliefs like those point to Christian nationalism — a movement that broadly revolves around the historically flawed notion that the U.S. was originally intended to be a Christian country, but lost its way.
“They’re taking their contemporary conservative Christian views and political intentions, and trying to suggest that these are also what God and the Founding Fathers originally intended,” he said.
In fact, Beadles often invokes the founders directly during public meetings, blog posts and livestreams. He has claimed to be descended from a wide variety of historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, William the Conqueror, Wyatt Earp and Daniel Boone — using his supposed connections to establish his bona fides as an influential person and legitimize his views.
Several prominent historians contacted for this story say they found no evidence backing up Beadles’ genealogical claims.
Unlike some far-right extremists, Beadles has stressed a need for peaceful protests. But on Turnbull’s podcast, Beadles agreed that public health officials responding to the COVID pandemic had committed “Nuremberg-level crimes” that should be “paid for with death.”
“Yeah, I truly believe that there should be a [sic] unbiased court that tries these people,” Beadles responded. “And if they’re found guilty, I believe it’s genocide.”
Robert Beadles walks into Washoe County's voting center to drop off his primary election ballot on June 14, 2022. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)
Changing the election system from the ground up
Following his move to Washoe County, Beadles started donating to local Republican causes — at first in small amounts and then accelerating to much larger sums. Over the past two years, he poured nearly $240,000 into the Washoe GOP, regional candidates running for office and efforts to recall two sitting public officials.
Within the last year, Beadles also spent nearly $95,000 on candidates in state contests and about $57,200 on federal candidates running in Nevada, California, Illinois, Ohio and Texas. He spent an additional $687,000 through his political action committees and on Gilbert’s gubernatorial recount.
Along with funding candidates, Beadles has focused on questioning the state’s elections system. In numerous livestreams, blog posts and county meetings, Beadles has referred to elections as “selections.” He has also baselessly accused the government of using a fictitious “algorithm” to automatically shift ballot counts.
Beadles’ activism started in Washoe County.
After the attack on the U.S. Capitol, he pushed his way into the county’s Republican Party. In a podcast interview, Beadles described leading a group of “patriots” to put the squeeze on the central committee board members, ultimately pressuring them to resign. He is still listed as a member of the executive committee on the party’s website.
On his own livestream, Beadles derided the party’s previous leadership.
“They only had a meeting every three months,” he said. “It was ridiculous, like nothing got done. You can look and see the entire room was just, like, itching to leave.”
Through his position in the Washoe GOP, he began pushing for electoral changes at the state level. Records from legislative workshops hosted by the Nevada secretary of state’s office show Beadles participating as a precinct captain and the “election integrity chair” for the Washoe County GOP Central Committee.
During those discussions, he advocated for hand-counting of ballots, saying, “All 17 counties need to simply stop using the rigging machines.” Beadles also criticized elections officials, noting there was “zero transparency” and, in response to regulations, sarcastically wrote in one chat, “Lol… . [sic] lock in the fraud.”
Beadles wasn’t just spending money or focusing on county party activities. In December 2021, he reached out to Washoe County Commissioner Jeanne Herman, inviting her to join a group of business owners at his house to share her platform, according to email records obtained through a public records request.
He introduced himself as one of the largest landowners in Nevada and dangled the incentive that “many here can help your campaign.”
There is no county record of Herman responding to Beadles’ email.A screenshot of Robert Beadles' email to Washoe County Commissioner Jeanne Herman on Dec. 11, 2021, where he invited her to meet with him and other business owners to discuss her campaign.
Beginning in January of this year, he started telling his online audience about a list of electoral changes he wanted local officials to adopt in order to “clean up” elections.
“Have National Guard at each polling location to ensure rules are followed,” he said during a livestream. “No more mail-out ballots or machines. All done by hand, by county citizens. We have one day of voting. Not early, not late voting; one day, make it a holiday.”
Then, on Feb. 8, 2022, Beadles took his demands to the Washoe County Board of Commissioners in the form of a 95-item “election integrity” petition. Hundreds of backers joined him in urging commissioners to adopt the changes, but commissioners were unable to take the item up for procedural reasons.
Those ideas later reappeared in an election-reform resolution put forward by Herman in March.
“Recently, it’s become apparent that the citizens are not happy with the way the county was handling their elections,” Herman said while introducing her resolution.
Herman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Beadles denied playing any role in drafting Herman’s resolution. But Herman told her fellow commissioners during the meeting that she had met with him while writing it — although she added she hadn’t had time to include Beadles’ ideas. Members of the county commission ultimately rejected Herman’s petition in a 4-1 vote.Collages of mailings released by Robert Beadles' PAC, the Franklin Project (Graphic by Kristyn Leonard)
But Beadles didn’t confine himself to seeking changes to the electoral system. While he was pushing his list of election demands, he was also funding recall efforts against Republican Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung and School Board Trustee Angie Taylor, the only Black elected official currently serving in Washoe County.
“I saw this woman, Angie Taylor, with a mask covering her face, and she would pull it down and eat a peanut and then put it back up and just stare soullessly into the audience where these people were pouring their hearts out,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal in an interview.
Taylor had sought to censure another board member whom Beadles supported. Beadles’ recall effort attacked Taylor over her handling of COVID and her support for a new social justice curriculum — something he saw as anathema. There was no formal reason given for Hartung’s recall.
Both recall efforts fizzled after failing to get the required number of signatures to trigger a special election. But Beadles has again targeted the school board races this election cycle.
Beadles’ foray into Washoe County politics isn’t unique to Northern Nevada. He’s been following a national playbook: Election deniers want to change the electoral system from the ground up, using a so-called precinct strategy. The term refers to a plan for stacking the Republican Party with loyal Trumpists, beginning with grassroots volunteers at the lowest levels of government.
Beadles is not a casual proponent of the strategy. He helped design the online platform for the plan promoted by Dan Schultz, a Republican attorney and founder of the precinct strategy.
Speaking on Steve Bannon’s popular “War Room” podcast in October of last year, Beadles said it’s vital to bring “American Firsters” into the precinct strategy movement.
“There’s like this dark, globalist hand that's kind of infiltrated every level of society,” Beadles said. “And it’s time that we get back involved. And we defend against this by, basically, the precinct strategy.”
Certifying a loss
Beadles bagged his first political trophy during the June primary election when he backed a far-right candidate running against sitting two-term Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey, a fellow Republican.
Beadles launched a smear campaign through a political action committee that sent mailers accusing Lucey, without evidence, of cheating on his wife with county employees. He also said Lucey funded his campaign through drug deals, among other allegations later found to be unsubstantiated by the Reno Gazette Journal. Lucey lost his primary.
In a blog post, Beadles baselessly blamed Lucey and Hartung for flipping the county from red to blue.
“To many, this is treason, as they have all been made aware of it and just lie to cover it up,” he wrote.
In reality, Washoe is still a swing county.
“We’ve always seen individuals come into our community with an ideal to make dramatic changes — that Nevada is flawed in some way, our [election] cycles are flawed in some way,” said Lucey during his first in-depth interview since his primary loss. “Robert Beadles moved into our community from California, and started off on this narrative of ‘election integrity.’ And it was really flawed.”
The first time Beadles’ name crossed Bob Lucey’s inbox was on Jan. 8. The email subject line: “Meeting.”
“Robert Beadles here, known by most as Beadles. I am a Reno resident and financially support as well as deploy my vast resources to many candidates and leaders across our Nation,” Beadles wrote. “Do you have time this coming week for a quick meeting?”
When Lucey replied almost a month later, agreeing to meet, Beadles never responded.
The next time Lucey heard from Beadles, he was pitching his 95-point list of election reforms during a board meeting.
Lucey joined his fellow commissioners in declining to take it up. In response, Beadles launched a multi-faceted attack against Lucey on March 29 with a blog post titled: “Who is Bob Lucey, The Washoe County Commissioner?”
“How do you defend [against] the lie? ... The most difficult, mentally draining, demoralizing thing is to sit there and fight something and watch the people that you love question you because of somebody else's narrative.”
Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey
Within the blog, Beadles featured quotes from Herman and Lucey’s Republican opponent Mike Clark, disparaging Lucey’s character. The blog post linked to videos on Gab, in which Herman and former Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler, a Republican, made unsubstantiated allegations that Lucey made “booty calls” to a county employee, among other accusations.
Beadles’ political action committee, The Franklin Project, also financed numerous mailers to voters featuring images of Lucey reminiscent of police mug shots. They included unfounded accusations of racism; funneling lucrative government contracts to his wife while also cheating on her; shutting down “election integrity” and being a bully. One flier called him “Bob ‘Lucifer’ Lucey” in all capital letters with a horned devil sporting Lucey’s face on the back.
A thorough fact-check of the claims by the Reno Gazette Journal found that the allegations were “all smoke, no fire.”
Lucey, a moderate Republican and local business owner, said smear campaigns are nothing new in the political world.
“When you’re a public official, you’re always on display,” Lucey said. “But when you start taking personal attacks at my family … I never thought in my lifetime that local politics would become this nasty.”
The accusations and false allegations led to what Lucey described as the worst six months of his life, as he and his family grappled with the repercussions.
“How do you defend [against] the lie?” Lucey said. “The most difficult, mentally draining, demoralizing thing is to sit there and fight something and watch the people that you love question you because of somebody else’s narrative.”Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey at a Board of Commissioners meeting on July 19, 2022. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)
Lucey’s opponent, Clark, is an election denier whose platform leans heavily on conservative talking points. Though Clark, who was largely self-funded, won the primary, campaign finance records show Lucey outraised him.
As the primary approached, Lucey thought his record as a commissioner would help him succeed against Clark, who as county assessor, had been banned from county offices after a female employee filed a restraining order against him.
But on election night, Lucey realized he was 1,000 votes behind Clark during a low-turnout election. Beadles had won.
“Beadles did a great job of going and finding people to support his narrative, and then finding candidates that would follow along,” Lucey said.
Though Lucey lost that night, he said there was no question in his mind that the election was “clean and transparent.”
When it came time to approve the primary results, Herman, who was backed by Beadles in her re-election bid, opposed certifying the election — including her 5-point victory in the primary. Lucey had a different outlook.
“I’m looking forward to certifying the vote today,” he said during the meeting. “I’m looking forward to [certifying] my loss.”Joey Gilbert and Robert Beadles arrived at a Washoe County voting center to cast their primary election ballots on June 14, 2022. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)
‘If you don’t know the name of Robert Beadles, you should’
Washoe County’s primary election appears to be only the beginning. As of July, Beadles had donated $27,100 to five of the nine candidates for the Legislature identified as people who deny the outcome of the 2020 presidential election by The Nevada Independent and KUNR.
Beadles also headlined a Washoe GOP fundraiser as a “voter integrity speaker” alongside Jim Marchant — the Republican secretary of state candidate whose election-denying platform has made national headlines.
Beadles also worked behind the scenes to change the election system.
After Beadles’ attempt to force the issue of election reform in Washoe County failed, he requested a slew of records from election officials in Clark County and wrote a series of emails to officials in nearby Lyon County, urging them to abandon voting machines in favor of paper ballots.
“Don’t decertify the machines, just don’t use them,” he wrote in an email. “Just like Esmeralda and Nye Counties and soon others.”
Beadles also received an email from Rex Steninger, a Republican county commissioner from rural Elko County. Steninger explained he got Beadles’ contact information from Gilbert, and asked him in an email for his thoughts about the use of paper ballots alongside voting machines.
“Paper ballots, hand count is the only way to go,” Beadles replied.
Though Beadles’ preferred candidates won in Washoe County, he said the June primary was still “fookey.” Joey Gilbert, the far-right candidate Beadles backed in the governor’s race, lost to Trump-endorsed Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo by roughly 26,000 votes, but refused to accept the outcome.
The day after the primary, Beadles defended his cherry-picking in a blog post and foreshadowed that he would continue his crusade about rigged elections if his candidates did not win in November.
“Many say, Beadles, what are you doing? Tons of your candidates you support won,” he wrote. “Look, until we correct our election system, they may win the primaries and then have their race stolen in the generals if this continues.”
Shortly thereafter, he funded the effort to challenge the results.
Beadles had backed Gilbert’s gubernatorial bid with a $150,000 donation and, when Gilbert lost the primary, paid nearly $191,000 for a statewide recount of the results. But that recount netted Gilbert just a handful of votes and failed to change the outcome of the election. Not to be deterred, Beadles then financially backed Gilbert’s legal challenge, incorrectly alleging that Lombardo’s win was a “mathematical impossibility” caused by a computer algorithm shifting vote totals.
A Carson City judge threw the case out, noting they had presented “no competent evidence” that would warrant changes to the election.
In early August, in a video announcing that he would “never” concede the governor’s race, Gilbert detailed fantastical theories of tens of thousands of votes being switched in the state’s GOP primary, echoing many of the claims trumpeted by Beadles over the past months. “Robert [Beadles] has led the research and legal teams,” he said, “to dig out the dishonesty and corruption that were embedded in this recent election process.”
Gilbert then made explicit his endorsement of the man who had done so much to support his illegitimate claims:
“If you don’t know the name of Robert Beadles, you should.”
Nevada Independent reporter Sean Golonka contributed research to this report.