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Despite rules, reporter booted from caucus

Sun., Feb. 5, 2012

HENDERSON, Nev. – I got kicked out of a Nevada caucus.

Having been assigned to report on a random GOP presidential caucus, I chose precinct 1721 at a community center at the Sun City Anthem senior community. After voters crammed themselves into a small, stuffy room, a series of speakers touted their favorite candidates. Most of them backed Mitt Romney.

Then, before the voting, the caucus chairwomen announced that no reporters were allowed in the room. The voters sitting near me, catching sight of my press badge issued by the Clark County GOP, called out that I was taking notes.

The caucus chair repeated: No. Press. Allowed. I said that wasn’t true and held up my press pass.

The chairwoman asked who I was.

“Ashley Powers from the Los Angeles Times.”

To understand what happened next, some context is in order. A wing of the Nevada GOP is very concerned – critics would say paranoid – about outsiders messing with the balloting process. A proposal by state party officials to register voters on caucus day, for example, was killed by members convinced that same-day registration would open the gates to voter fraud.

So the verdict on my presence was loud, and near-unanimous.


“You’re a bunch of liars!” someone shouted.

“Spy! She’s a spy!” someone else said.

A woman waved a button at me, which said: DON’T BELIEVE THE LIBERAL MEDIA.

Tough crowd.

A man walked over and said that if I didn’t leave, he’d call security. So I left the room while voters cast their ballots.

A short time later, a party volunteer told precinct 1721’s leaders that reporters were in fact permitted in caucus rooms. But at that point I was persona non grata. When I tried to re-enter the room, a man said people were still voting, grabbed my arm, pushed me away and shut the door in my face.

Later, the Clark County GOP official who’d issued me my press badge gave me a call. Bobbie Haseley was gracious and apologetic. “It shouldn’t have happened,” she said. I told Haseley I appreciated her call and that, at the very least, the morning had been memorable.


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