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Complaint alleges far-right Reno activist broke campaign finance rules

Paul McKenzie said Operation Sunlight last filed an expense report to the secretary of state in 2022, despite spending hundreds on Facebook ads.
Carly Sauvageau
Carly Sauvageau
Election 2024Local Government

Former Reno City Councilman Paul McKenzie, a Democrat, has filed an election complaint to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office alleging that far-right activist Robert Beadles failed to report recent political expenses through his PAC.

The complaint alleges that Beadles’ Operation Sunlight PAC paid for several Facebook ads dating back prior to 2022, when Operation Sunlight last filed an expense report. McKenzie said that conduct violates rules listed on the secretary of state’s website requiring PACs to file quarterly expense and contribution reports.

“The PAC has attacked candidates up and down the ballot and promoted extreme ideas … in attempts to turn Washoe County into a county that’s molded in Beadles’ view of what he thinks politics should be,” McKenzie said during a Thursday morning press meeting.

Beadles did not respond to a request for comment. The secretary of state’s office also didn’t immediately respond for request for comment. 

According to McKenzie, the ads in question came from a Facebook page called “Operation Sunlight” — which is the name of Beadles’ blog — and some of the ads were flagged and removed because the political content goes against Facebook’s ad policy. Several of the advertised posts claimed widespread voting fraud occurred in the 2022 elections — something state election officials say is false.

Though many of the ads estimate the expense at less than $100, other ads — such as one disparaging Washoe County Commissioners Alexis Hill and Clara Andriola — claim the expenses in the $500 to $599 range, according to Facebook-required ad disclosures. In total, Operation Sunlight has spent more than $161,000 on Facebook ads since 2018.

Beadles’ other PAC, The Franklin Project, has filed regular expense and contribution reports from 2022 to the most recent deadline in April 2024. Beadles is a prominent Republican donor and election conspiracy theorist, who is an at-large member of the Washoe GOP executive committee. Since January 2021, Beadles and his wife, Nicole, have donated more than $200,000 to Northern Nevada candidates and the county Republican party, while also filing multiple failed lawsuits seeking widespread changes to voting systems amid fantastical claims of widespread voting fraud.

McKenzie said he hopes the complaint he filed will prompt the secretary of state to investigate these ads, then refer the complaint to the attorney general for legal action. 

"They call themselves Operation Sunlight, but they want to operate in darkness," McKenzie said.


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