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An interview with Joey Gilbert, GOP hopeful for Nevada governor

AP Photo/John Locher, Pool

Joey Gilbert waits before a Republican primary debate for Nevada governor Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in Las Vegas.

There are more than a dozen Republicans looking to challenge the Democratic incumbent Governor Steve Sisolak in November.

One of them is Joey Gilbert. The Reno-based attorney and former professional boxer has made a name for himself in recent years, filing several lawsuits challenging state and local COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

He's also an outspoken critic of the results of the 2020 presidential election. We spoke to Gilbert as part of KNPR's 2022 election coverage.

However, before we get into the interview, we wanted to highlight a handful of erroneous and potentially harmful comments he made during the conversation.

The first is that fraud affected the results of the 2020 presidential election. These allegations have time and again but proven false. In early 2021, Nevada's Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske released a report that found that most of the complaints were "deemed to be inaccurate or suspicious for a variety of reasons."

Gilbert also makes unsubstantiated claims about drugs used to treat COVID-19, like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, which he says have the ability to effectively treat COVID-19, especially when given early.

Numerous studies published in both the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet, which are both peer reviewed publications, have found no solid evidence that either drug is useful in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Instead, those journals note the drugs were not effective against COVID-19 and had a potential for serious side effects, or encourage patients to delay life saving treatment.

With that in mind, this is our conversation with Joey Gilbert.

JOE SCHOENMANN: So this is your first official political campaign. Why are you running for governor?

JOEY GILBERT: Well, you know, it's actually pretty simple. The state, you know, was under a pandemic, but it wasn't a pandemic, from any health issues, not least the last year and a half, it was a pandemic of failed leadership. And I saw a void that needed to be filled, someone needed to step up and actually do something for the people, the state and for our children, and our workers. And that's why I did what I did. And I've stood behind that. And my biggest mission, which is to fix our last in the nation public schools,

SCHOENMANN: I really want to talk about that some more. Let's get to the party. The reason you got your name out there, as I said in the introduction, was that you challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election. Do you believe Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States? How come? What's your proof?

GILBERT: My proof is that, you know, there's six states that shut our counting down for the first time in our nation's history for weeks, went to bed, President Trump was winning, I know people are gonna say, ‘Oh, it's the mail in ballots.’ But you know, some just doesn't make sense, statistical anomalies across the state, every precinct was the same. And not just in this state, but in many states, including the six swing states. And so for me, it's common sense, the man didn't get 80 million votes, it wasn't the most popular president of our lifetime. And that's what I'm sticking to.

SCHOENMANN: Numerous lawsuits were filed, they're lost, or they were dismissed in court throughout this country. Even GOP appointed judges did that. So some people are gonna say you're just holding on to that to get votes from your conservative base, how do you respond to that?

GILBERT: I respond that our elections are broken. And that, you know, that's the most sacred thing we have in this country, is to have elections where we can remove people that we don't think are doing the job that they were hired to do. And I just think at this point in time, right now, we need fair and actual secure elections. And again, this isn't me pointing this out, go look at the Senate testimony from Democrats, three and four years ago, saying the machines weren't, weren't secure, that could be hacked by you know, anybody with a smartphone, then look at what they used to say about mailing ballots that they were be a complete disaster. And we've seen it and so I'm not trying to hold on to votes. I work for the people. You know, this is not an issue. That's only when Republicans and huge majority of independents, nonpartisans, definitely Republicans are all behind this. And I just want to see fair and free elections. And I do not believe the 2020 election was the most fair and free and secure election of our lifetime. And I stand behind that.

SCHOENMANN: And because of that, you were, in fact, in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2020. 

GILBERT: No, there you go. You're jumping ahead. I wasn't there for Stop The Steal. I was there to speak on medical tyranny.

SCHOENMANN: But you were in that state, but you were there.

GILBERT: But you just misstated it. You said I was there because of the vote. I was there to speak on medical tyranny. And I was at the Capitol on a different stage speaking when everybody came up, and I did walk across there once everything had aired, people were already up on the steps. And I did walk over there, and I was there, and I did spend a few minutes there, but I was on another stage giving a speech when my live feed was caught on Facebook, you know, clearly at the same time as stuff went awry over there. And so I had nothing to do with whatever happened inside that Capitol.

SCHOENMANN: Now, you're also part of America's Frontline Doctors. What's your part with that group?

GILBERT: I'm now chairman of the board of America's Frontline Doctors. I was originally just a board member and director of strategy. I was leading the legal strategy on filing lawsuits against our government on behalf of our military, law enforcement, health care workers, city workers, students, and the lot, and very proud of that.

SCHOENMANN: There are stories again, all over the internet, not just in one area. I'm sure you've heard of this, that the groups have been accused of taking in almost $7 million from people for disseminating information about drugs that have been disproven to cure or to prevent COVID, like ivermectin. Do you get paid by that group?

GILBERT: I do receive compensation for my work with that group. But what you just said is an absolute misstatement of truth. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine have the highest success rating in treating COVID. And wherever you're getting information from, it's just not true. It's a 200% weighted average for those that take hydroxychloroquine early against hospitalization and death. And you know, if you look at Ryan Cole and other doctors who are pathologists, you'll see that ivermectin is, you know, at worst, it's a sugar pill, and at best, it could save your life. It's virtually harmless in any other regard, but it absolutely works, and received the Nobel Peace Prize for use in humans in 2015.

That is half true. In reality, a pair of scientists won a Nobel Prize in science and medicine for their work using ivermectin to treat a disease called river blindness caused by parasites in Africa. The award had nothing to do with the treatment of COVID-19. In fact, a recent paper in the New England Journal of medicines found that the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 was at best, inconclusive. 

SCHOENMANN: So what are your feelings about the vaccine that people have been getting and have gotten for a couple of years now?

GILBERT: I think the vaccine is a completely unnecessary, unproven, ineffective treatment modality, it's not a vaccine, it doesn't prevent infection or transmission, it may possibly limit symptoms, or lessen symptoms. But as you're now starting to see in countries like Israel and the UK, and now that people are getting three and four shots here, it has absolutely destroyed their immune system. And that's because it destroys your broad spectrum antibodies, and actually makes you less healthy and destroys your immune system, your natural antibody, so I'm not supportive of it at all. And again, I'm not some far right wing, you know, radical. I was in the military. I've had every vaccine known to man, but I had COVID. And I can read, and you can see, even in John Hopkins or Harvard School of Public Health, they will say that you have 27 times more durable immunity from catching COVID and surviving through building your own antibodies up. So it was just a decision for me. And I think, again, I'm not against vaccines at all. I think if someone wants it, they should take it. Just like if you want to wear a mask, you should wear a mask. But nowhere in the Constitution where you find the word mandate, and it should have never been mandated at anybody, let alone our health care workers, first responders, law enforcement and military. 

SCHOENMANN: Now earlier this year, a video emerged of Governor Steve Sisolak with his wife at a restaurant in Clark County. In that video, a man is seen harassing the governor, making racist and lewd comments to the governor's wife. And after it was posted, you wrote on Facebook he absolutely earned it. How come?

GILBERT: I just believe when you destroy a state, when you destroy the lives of children, when you destroy their youth, something they can never get back, when you just destroyed 35% of all small businesses that are never to return, tie doctor's hands so that loved ones end up isolated, medicated, you know, sedated and then ventilated, and in hospitals and die, that you know what, you get what you deserve. And although I don't think that, you know, at the time, you know, I didn't get to see the video of the outside, I only saw what happened in the restaurant at first when I made those comments. And I thought the man deserved it. You know, look, we all choose to make decisions. And as a public official, if you make decisions, and you know, you're going to face reprieve for it. And that's what happened. And so, again, I didn't hear any racist comments made to his wife, he did say stuff about China. And he said he was working with China. But then as soon as he saw his daughter walk in the picture, he quickly walked away. And so, again, I stand behind that comment. I do think that, you know, could you use a little less charged language? For sure. Could he have been, you know, handled in a different way for sure. But at the same time, you know, what Sisolak did to this state, and we're going to be feeling these repercussions for the next decade, if not longer. The man deserved it.

SCHOENMANN: I just wonder if you think encouraging people to –

GILBERT: I encourage any dissertations respectful, verbally, or if it’s something that you think is going to help.

SCHOENMANN: I just say encourage, I didn't say you did encourage it when you said he absolutely earned it. He doesn't. No, no, it's not that you do not encourage him. You're encouraging other people to do the same.

GILBERT: I'm answering a question you asked me, what I thought of it. I just simply said that, you again, you just totally took it out of context. I said, Well, he could have used less, you know, charged language.

SCHOENMANN: Why don't you say he shouldn't have said that at all?

GILBERT: Now, I'm not gonna say it. And if you don't like it, too bad.

SCHOENMANN: I'm saying, don't you think that encourages other people to be disrespectful in public discourse? 

GILBERT: I think no, I think that listen, Sisolak made decisions that affected this state and affected our children and affected our businesses. Far more than that little, you know, episode of that restaurant, and I've already said he could have used less charged language. He could have handled it differently. He didn't. But if I again, I'll stand behind it, he deserved what he got.

SCHOENMANN: So what do you see as the top issues in this campaign?

GILBERT: Well, with COVID in the rearview mirror, you know, hopefully, but again, when you've got people like Bill Gates already talking about pandemic to when you've already got people like Anthony Fauci talking about bringing back the same restrictions that we know failed, we have to be mindful of to never let another governor do what's what's happened to this state. Again, you know, the governor's power should be limited, and a true leader would give power back to the people immediately. I don't think there should be ever a situation where a governor can go two and a half years with emergency powers, when the death rate in Northern Nevada dropped by 80, I think 83% By May 2020. 

So I think now, the most important issues facing the state number one, our broken schools, our 50th in the nation public schools, followed by our economy, which was destroyed by the mandates, and then the next would be crime. 

And crime has exploded in this state, especially in our major cities. It's a 500% increase in Las Vegas, where we're two times the national average of violent crime, two times the national average of property crime, a 30% increase in carjackings in places like Summerlin 110% increase in homicides. And so when you're the number two and number five, respectively, per capita, child sex trafficking and human human sex trafficking hub in the United States, we have a major major problem. And that doesn't even take into account the amount of fentanyl and drugs pouring into Las Vegas, that's all being run by cartels, that's coming across our open border. 

So again, it would be our schools that need to be addressed, followed by our economy, and then followed by crime. And then there's other more important things to know, too, depending on where you live in the state, election, integrity, water, Second Amendment, and you know, you know, things like sanctuary cities, but again, I think those are all part and parcel to the economy and to crime.

SCHOENMANN: Would you want to use taxpayer funds for vouchers so that if people wanted to, they could put their children in a private schools?

GILBERT: 100%. We need to use vouchers, parents should be able to have vouchers, education vouchers, because when you're 50th in the nation for a decade straight, and you've just kept throwing more money on it, we've put the same amount of money per pupil as Florida does. And according to NPR, it's about $11,100 per student. And Florida spends the same amount of funds at the same rate, their schools are number three in the nation. This is not a funding problem. It's an administrative problem. It's a leadership problem. It's an accountability problem. And that's where I would step in as a proven business leader as a proven successful businessman. That's when Nevada needs most as a non-politician, non-bureaucrat, that's not going to let the teachers union and the you know, special interests, run the show, but get in there and do what's best for the people in Nevada and for our children.

SCHOENMANN: If you do become governor, and as a Republican, and the legislature is democratically in the majority, how are you gonna get these things done?

GILBERT: Well, first and foremost, there's a red wave coming, the likes of which no one's ever seen before. And it's not just a red wave. This is no longer a Democrat versus Republican thing. This is an American thing. This is about life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness is about freedom. This is about being playing on to America now. And people have seen what the other side is, the far left side, the steps towards not just socialism, but Marxism. Right. Communism, you know, control power, you know, parental rights being, you know, you know, you know, just absolutely decimated. And so this is going to be a very interesting election where it's not necessarily the Republican Party is going to do so well, but America is going to do well, freedom is going to do well and there's not going to be a veto proof majority out of the legislature. And so that's going to mean that the governor that you have in Carson City is going to be a very important person because he's going to have the ability to veto. You know, the nonsense and the other bills. Again, I'm not going to say I'm the no on everything guy. But I'm definitely the smart legislation for Nevadans that helps everyone that's going to do the people's work and represent the people. And so again, we're going to work very hard. And again, you know, no one's proven more than me the past two years, that I can work with both sides, because I didn't get all this stuff done that I did, by simply just, you know, fighting one person I had to work with in groups. I had to work with parents, my phone rang around the clock for the last 26 months. And never one time when the phone rang, did I start by saying, ‘Oh, you know, who would you vote for? What party?’ and I just said, ‘How are you? What do you need? How can I help?’ And, you know, I learned a lot.

And these issues, I'm talking about are 80% issues what I named as the priorities, whether you're in the Latino demographic, whether you're Black Americans or Black Nevadans, it doesn't matter. You're talking 75, 80% want safe schools, want safe neighborhoods, want an economy that works for them, want less taxes. You know, these are things that we can all agree upon. And so when I get in and do what I'm going to do, it's going to be under the, you know, the auspices of that I'm, I'm working for the people in Nevada, and I'm doing what's best for our children. And right now, parents are terrified about dropping their kids off at public schools in Las Vegas. They're worried about their kids up here. And let's not even talk about the, you know, the students. Yeah, we're worried about them. But teachers are leaving the profession, at rates we've never seen before because their lives are in danger. They're being violently assaulted.

So when you're dealing with, you know, 75 to 95% of Nevada's fourth through eighth graders being functionally illiterate, when you're dealing with 90% of high school seniors graduating that are reading an eighth grade reading level, and don't qualify for the most basic community college level courses. And both UNR and UNLV are having to put in remedial programs. We've got a major crisis on our hands. This is what we have to put our most important, you know, time and focus on because it really does bleed into everything else. It bleeds into the economy, it bleeds into the crime rate. Why is that happening? You might ask? Well, it's because we have programs called restorative justice or restorative discipline. There's no accountability. And so until we start changing these very basic things, and working with the legislature and working with parents, and faith-based groups, and you know, everyone and teachers and the administration and get things under control, we're not going to see a change here in Nevada, on crime. 

SCHOENMANN: Do you think one of your opponents, Sheriff Joe Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has failed Clark County?

GILBERT: No Show Joe has been a disaster on crime. And again, this isn't me saying this. This is, look at the ads that the Democrats are running on him now. You know, he made Las Vegas less safe when he removed ICE from Metro. Okay, when he sat down on Sisolak’s task force, he literally sat on the man's transition team and advised him on sanctuary city policy. And now Nevada has the largest illegal immigrant population per capita in the United States. That's a fact. That didn't happen by accident. So I don't know what No Show Joe was doing. But I do know that, you know, I call them sanctuary, high crime, Joe, because of what's taking place in Las Vegas. And I come from a background where my father's a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, you know, you don't do your first job, you don't do a great job in your first job and prove to the people that you're, you know, the right guy for the job, then you don't get promoted. And right now he's asking for a promotion, and a raise. This is one of those guys saying, I didn't do a good job. I did mandates, I follow through with what Sisolak wanted, but you'll give me more power, hire me to be your governor, and then I'll protect your rights, and then I'll stick up for you. And I'm just not buying it.

He also mentioned about us having a high per capita rate of undocumented workers, implying that's the reason for an increase in crime. First, there is no proof that undocumented immigrants are any more likely to commit violent crimes than current residents. In fact, a December 2020 report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that undocumented immigrants are half as likely to be arrested for violent crimes as U.S.-born citizens. Finally, Gilbert says Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who is also a candidate for governor, advised Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak on “sanctuary city policy.” while Lombardo was a former supporter of Sisolak, and served on his transition. Nevada does not recognize immigration sanctuary in any legal capacity.

SCHOENMANN: So you've heard of the leaked decision, the draft decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. That decision won't have an immediate impact in Nevada due to abortion protections here. But some conservatives say they'll look for ways to repeal Nevada's abortion protections. Do you want to change anything about abortion laws in Nevada?

GILBERT: You know what, I'm actually really glad you said that the way you said it, because you're probably the most informed person I've talked to on it. So Nevada did a question ballot, Question 7, you know, almost 30 years ago, and it is ingrained in. I can't say it statutorily, but then it does have some constitutional, you know, implications to it. And so that is not something that a governor can decide, and a while I would sign no, you know, pro-abortion legislation, or make things easier. I'd actually like to see it come back four weeks and set it at 20 weeks. I'd also like to make sure that we keep things in place like you know, parental consent, you know, because what I just said earlier, about Nevada being the number two and number five per capita for child sex trafficking and sex trafficking in general, you have girls as young as 13 that are you know, you know, being used in sex trafficking and then they get pregnant and they're being taken to clinics and getting an abortion. No one knows anything about it because there's not a parent there with him. So there are certain things I want to see, you know, as as governor that don't get rolled back. But again, that's not for me to say that's something that would need to be put to the people, that's something that would need to be put back on the ballot, you know, back on a ballot question or to our elected representatives. And again, I would not work personally to, you know, to take away something that the people of this state voted on and voted soundly on, I believe it's polling at 78% who want the freedom of choice. 

And, and again, I want to, you know, supplement that conversation by saying, you know, yesterday toured the Women's Resource Medical Center in Las Vegas, and I think more needs to be done for women, especially young women that are faced with a pregnancy and might want to not have it because right now, based on the cost, and based on you know, on absolutely the options, it would be much easier, much more cost effective, to have an abortion and I think that we need to do better as a society, to not only teach the value of human life at work with, you know, clergy, work with, you know, faith based leaders, parents, children to teach the value of human life, and make sure it's not something that's used as a quick solution to an unwanted pregnancy. I think that we've got to be able to provide with the money this country has, and the amount of money I see wasted every day on Democrat pet programs that are just absolutely garbage. I would love to see more done for women's health and for single moms and dads that are scared and nervous and don't know how they're going to have this baby if they choose to have it. And I'd like to see the same amount of money and an effort and resources put forth for women that do want to have a child and for single dads that do want to have a child than than just you know, having an abortion is the one one size fits all, you know, answer for a pregnancy that people may or may or may not want to have. But because of the resources and because of the coercion I think exists. That's the only solution they see is plausible.

Joey Gilbert, GOP gubernatorial candidate, Nevada 

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.