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State Senator Patricia Farley is not running for re-election but she is the subject of a recall campaign anyway.
Last November, just after the election, State Senator Farley announced she was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent. During the 2017 legislative session, she caucused with the Democrats.
What she experienced in 2017 was wholly different than what she experienced in 2015 and she thinks this recall effort against her is a retaliation against her by her former caucus leader State Senator Michael Roberson.
“This whole issue with me is there is no other word but to say its vindictive,” Farley told KNPR’s State of Nevada.
A recall effort is underway for Farley, State Senator Joyce Woodhouse and State Senator Nicole Cannizzaro but at this point, they don’t know where the money for the effort is coming from, the reasons for the recall, or who is behind it. That information will be released when the final petition paperwork is submitted.
What Farley does know is that former caucus leader Roberson has been actively supporting the recall effort. Farley believes Roberson’s support is two-fold. First, it is a way for Republicans to take back the State Senate in districts that are considered swing districts.
“There is no basis for a recall other than a power grab,” she said.
Secondly, she says it’s a way to get back at her personally because of her departure from the Republican Senate Caucus after the 2015 legislative session.
“There is no reason to be recalling me,” she said. “I think it is vindictive. I think it is an effort to both professionally and personally attack me. I think he uses this as a venue to do that.”
According to Farley, her decision to become non-partisan and leave the caucus came after several problems with Roberson’s leadership.
She said it began with the fight over the prevailing wage provision of a school bonding bill and ended when she was given her committee assignments by Roberson and noticed they were all committees that met late into the evening. Farley is a single mother and said attending those committees would have been almost impossible.
In between those two incidents, Farley said a lot happened, including a discussion in the hallway with State Senator Kelvin Atkinson.
Farley said after a particularly heated Senate session about increasing the minimum wage she and Atkinson got into a discussion in the hallway outside the Senate Chambers. She admits it wasn’t the best use of either one of their voices, but it is part of what happens during a session.
A few minutes later, she was called into a meeting with the then leader of the State Senate Roberson and State Senator Ford, along with a few other members of the leadership. According to Farley, Roberson started to accuse Atkinson of threatening Farley in the hallway.
“I’m shocked that this is being said,” Farley told KNPR.
She said after Ford left the meeting she told Roberson that he mischaracterized the whole discussion with Atkinson. Farley states that Roberson then said, “You gotta look at how bad this looks to his base. You have an African-American man threatening a white female.”
Stunned by that argument, Farley said she immediately tracked down Ford and told him the confrontation between her and Atkinson did not happen the way it was described.
She says she was appalled at how Roberson was using the incident.
“Here I am. I’m educated. I run a business. I’m a mom. I’m a good person. Some guy just thought he had enough power and I was insignificant enough to put words like that in my mouth and thought he was going to go out and make a bigger situation out of it like I didn’t exist and that something like that was okay?” Farley said, “I was horrified. I was pissed. I was done”
In the end, she felt like she couldn’t work under Roberson’s leadership.
“Hey look, I didn’t leave the Republican Party,” she said. “I left the Republican Senate Caucus because my integrity and who I was as a human being and who I was professionally was being damaged by the actions of someone who I think was acting with discrimination, with hate, and with total and solely self-promotion.”
Farley said there is no question women in the Legislature were treated differently and there is no question that sexual harassment was “acceptable.” She said nothing was done to address sex discrimination and harassment in Carson City until State Senator Aaron Ford dealt with former State Senator Mark Manendo and the allegations against him. She is hopeful that there will be changes in behavior going forward.
In the 2017 legislative session, Farley caucused with the Democrats.
According to her, it was an entirely different experience.
“[State Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford] treated me like a caucus member even though I was a non-partisan,” she said.
She also said that although she didn’t always agree with the agenda she was never “shut out or shut down.”
Farley was quick to point out that her problem wasn’t the entire Republican Party or even the entire caucus, but Roberson’s leadership.
“It had nothing to do with the Republican Party,” she said. “It had everything to do with his leadership and who he was as a human being.”
Farley also says the fact the three people being recalled are women can’t be ignored.
“There is something to be said about the fact that this is the first time in the nation – we’re number two in the nation, finally at the top of a list – with the number of women in the Legislature and lo and behold, three women are up for recall right after that session. I think that says a lot,” she said.
KNPR News has asked State Senator Michael Roberson to come on KNPR’s State of Nevada to respond to what Farley said.
He did respond with the following statement on the Nevada Senate Republican Caucus website:
“Senator Farley has decided to end her time as a state senator by knowingly spreading falsehoods and making outrageous claims that have no basis in fact. It is sad because many women do encounter horrible situations and work environments and they must have their voices heard. When someone makes false claims, it hurts all those who have legitimate issues. Politically-motivated slander is gutter politics, it drags everyone down, and shows the true character of an individual.”
The following are statements from others with direct knowledge of this subject matter:
Nevada State Senator Becky Harris, 2014-Present:
“Michael Roberson has been my greatest advocate and champion. Michael saw my potential and encouraged me: from my successful election to the Nevada State Senate, to my selection as Chair of the Senate Education Committee in 2015, to my position as Co-Caucus Policy Coordinator. Michael has personally recruited candidates who have diverse backgrounds and profoundly different perspectives for political office. Michael has repeatedly demonstrated his respect for differing points of view through his work on major policy issues and is a strong proponent of women in government. Claims to the contrary are unfounded. I’m proud to stand with Michael.”
Jodi Stephens, Executive Director of Senate Republican Caucus, 2011-2016:
“Senator Farley’s interview is not grounded in truth. No person has worked closer with Michael during his public service career than me. During my five years as caucus director for the Senate Republicans, no member did more to empower women than Michael Roberson. He not only led the unprecedented effort to recruit strong female candidates for higher office, he continued to work tirelessly to ensure their success – both in and out of the public eye. Michael’s commitment to equal rights should be commended. His record of fighting for, and alongside, Nevada’s strongest women should be applauded.”
Jodi Poley, Legislative Assistant to Senator Michael Roberson, 2013-2017:
“In 2013, 2015 and part of 2017, I worked directly with Senator Roberson as his legislative assistant. I can tell you first hand that Senator Roberson was and is a class act. He created a great work environment and never acted in a way that I found unprofessional or sexist. For anyone to claim otherwise is ridiculous.”
As far as the recall effort, there is about a month left for the group trying to recall the three senators to get enough signatures. If those signatures are gathered, then a special election would be held in December, right around the holidays.
Farley wants everyone to be aware of what is going on and question why a group outside of Nevada is pouring money into a recall effort.
“Whoever is elected should be elected by the people not by special elections stolen by special interests,” she said.
State Senator, Patricia Farley, I - District 8