Washoe County School Board Trustee Jeff Church over the weekend issued a call for civility during the election season. He penned an opinion article, riddled with factual and grammatical errors, denouncing former Reno City Council member Neoma Jardon, now the head of the Downtown Reno Partnership, over her tweet posted late last month.
“Hey thanks Robert Beadles (Franklin Project) for the handy list of who NOT to vote for,” Jardon tweeted on Oct. 29. “If you’re pushing/financing them, that’s a hard pass. Go sell your snake oil, antisemitic hatred and extremist candidates somewhere else. Nevada’s not buying your bullshit!”
Church accused Jardon of being divisive.
“One might ponder that it is unprofessional and unwise to take such a low road when you may be serving alongside them or needing their cooperation between your board and theirs,” he said of others who clicked like on the tweet, including fellow WCSD trustee Angela Taylor, Washoe County Commissioner Alexis Hill and Reno City Council member Devon Reese.
“I call on this gang of four to walk back the comments and I call on other members of the County Commission, City Council and WCSD School Board to repudiate these divisive comments as I do.”
Church further said Jardon was referring to mostly far-right candidates for local political office as being antisemitic. That’s not what she wrote, however.
Jardon’s tweet was in reference to an in-depth report by the Nevada Independent with KUNR, that showed Robert Beadles, the rich, far-right activist, repeated and advanced anti-semitic tropes as part of his mostly failed attempts to inject extremist ideologies – by funding and threatening lawsuits, claiming election fraud, paying for vote recounts and unsuccessful elected official recalls – into Reno-area politics.
According to KUNR and the Independent’s reporting, “Beadles pointed to the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ — a long-debunked antisemitic pamphlet claiming that Jews are conspiring to take over the world.
“Read it again. I graduated Publik Scool [sic] but I think I read it correctly.”
“‘Just like the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ when you infiltrate every single layer of civilization of a society, they put their people in these prominent positions to keep the information from leaking out or to keep their narrative in place,’ Beadles said. ‘And we’re seeing that.’”
Jardon said her tweet was clear, as it was directed specifically at Beadles.
“Mr. Church clearly misread my tweet. I stand by it and won’t be bullied into silence by him, or anyone else for that matter,” she told This Is Reno.
Church doubled down and insisted, contrary to the explicit text, Jardon said something she did not.
“Read it again. I graduated Publik Scool [sic] but I think I read it correctly,” he said.
KUNR also reported today that only two candidates for local political office denounced Beadles’ antisemitic remarks.
Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam and District Attorney Chris Hicks, both Republicans, received money from Beadles. Both donated it to non-profit organizations.
“I reject all of Mr. Beadles’ extremist positions, whether on race, religion, or anything else,” Hicks said in KUNR’s report.
“I find the public statements and political viewpoints of Mr. Beadles to be hurtful and divisive; his political expression in no way reflects my own political beliefs; and I do not associate myself with him in any way,” Balaam also told KUNR and the Independent.
Church, however, would not denounce Beadles’ statements.
He first implied he never received money from Beadles, but public records show, in fact, Beadles paid thousands for Church’s legal defense fund.
When asked about this contradiction, Church said, “That was well after the election to defray the costs of my attorney as we fought the failed Censure [sic] of my free speech. I still had to pay some out of pocket but while unclear, I was transparent in reporting this.”
Church also claimed to be Jewish.
“As a person of a high percentage of Eastern European Jewish decent [sic], I take exceptional offense at calling these folks antisemitic without an ouch [sic] of proof,” he wrote.
When asked, as a person allegedly of Jewish heritage, why not issue a statement about anti-semitism, Church did not respond other than to say “doing my DNA is on my to do list but my daughter did hers.”
He further accused the news media of “suffering from RBDS (Robert Beadles Derangement Syndrome).”
Church said news media should be looking to “extreme favoritism” and “possibly fraudulent” aspects to the Washoe County School District having a Bernie Sanders rally at Reno High School last week.
The school district has on its website a document that explains its longstanding policy of hosting political events on school district properties:
“A request to rent the school’s facilities for a campaign kickoff, event, or debate is allowable, as long as the event is during times when school is not in session. If the request of one candidate or party is granted, similar use of the facility must be made available to the opposition, if requested. However, effort must be made to maintain the District’s impartiality in these events and the District shall not promote these events.”
Church added, “Rather than suffer from RBDS, when I wake up I worry of the sad state of affairs at WCSD.”
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.