Gilbert, Fiore defend threats made on governor and wife at restaurant

Gilbert, Fiore defend threats made on governor and wife at restaurant
Gov. Steve Sisolak with his wife and daughters during a speech last week. (Photo: Omer Khan | Las Vegas Raiders).

by Michael Lyle, Nevada Current
March 1, 2022

LAS VEGAS — While the Nevada Republican Party released a statement against the violent language directed at Gov. Steve Sisolak and his wife Kathy, who were recently threatened and harassed in a Las Vegas restaurant, the party remains silent about the candidates praising those actions.  

Tiffany Howard, an associated professor at UNLV who studies international security and political violence, said failing to offer a strong condemnation could result in threats escalating. 

“That’s what we saw with the insurrection,” she said. “If you believe you’re acting in the interest of your elected official then you don’t think you’re going to face consequences.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal originally reported on the incident after obtaining a copy of a video of Sisolak at a Las Vegas restaurant.

The video showed two men threatening Sisolak and following him and his wife through the restaurant and then outside, saying “We should string you up on lamppost right now” and “they hang traitors.”

Following the report, Republican gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert wrote on Facebook he couldn’t “think of a more deserving person” than Sisolak to get harassed and threatened. 

“Hell no I do not condemn it,” he wrote. “You earned it Steve. You absolutely earned it.”

The Las Vegas Sun reported that Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore, another Republican candidate running for governor, said Sisolak was  “lucky it was just words” and “if you look at the history of dictators, pitchforks will be next.”

In a statement Monday, Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, said “there is no place for the behavior and violent threats we saw against the Governor on that video this weekend.” 

“To all Nevadans frustrated with the governor, the time and place to take out your frustrations will be in November at the ballot box by electing our Republican nominees, not in a restaurant as he sits down for a meal with his wife and children,” he wrote.

While McDonald criticized Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who in 2018 told supporters to confront Trump administrations out in public, he didn’t acknowledge the current Nevadan Republican candidates praising the harassment.

The Nevada Republican Party didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

Howard said it’s not just about issuing a statement but being full-throated in condemnation to prevent potential violence. 

“What stops these two men from shooting Sisolak and his wife? Nothing,” she said. “If you have a very weak statement from the audience these two men are pandering toward, which is the Republican Party, and say things like ‘you should be lucky they didn’t come out with pitchforks and fire’ then that will be the next step. We should be more than a little bit nervous.”

In his post, Gilbert said elected officials shouldn’t “get a free pass.”

“They won’t be able to go to restaurants, they won’t be able to go in public spaces without being confronted for the damage, harm, misery and murder they caused to the citizens AND CHILDREN of this State and country,” Gilbert wrote. 

He told Sisolak to “get ready … because it’s coming.”

In a statement released Monday, Meghin Delaney, a spokeswoman for Sisolak, wrote the governor “is deeply disappointed in how this incident unfolded, particularly with the language used to talk about First Lady Kathy Sisolak’s heritage.” 

“We can disagree about the issues, but the personal attacks and threats are unwarranted, unwelcome and unbecoming behavior for Nevadans,” Delaney wrote. 

Mallory Payne with Nevada Democratic Victory Fund said “every candidate in the Republican field for governor must condemn this abhorrent behavior immediately.”

“They have filled their campaigns with far-right, hateful rhetoric that clearly has dangerous repercussions,” Payne said. “Their words are fueling violent and racist attacks and they have the power to put a stop to it today by denouncing these disturbing actions.”

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, another Republican candidate, said while he is frustrated with Sisolak’s policies, that “violent threats have no place in our political system.”

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.