LAS VEGAS – A group of Bernie Sanders supporters is accusing the Nevada State Democratic Party of blocking them from running for party office, according to a lawsuit.
Eight Democrats filed a lawsuit against party officials for allegedly violating state law and internal rules. Party Chair Roberta Lange and executive director Zach Zaragoza are among the defendants named in the suit, The Las Vegas Sun reported Friday.
According to the plaintiffs, Lange and Zaragoza denied their applications to run for the party's executive board because they missed an April 25 filing deadline.
The plaintiffs say a document labeled "Final Election Rules" stated the deadline as April 29. The executive board, central committee and representatives for national committeewoman and national committeeman will all be elected at the state convention May 14.
The Nevada Democratic Party has countered that the deadline was later changed to April 25 in the final draft of election rules. According to officials, the deadline was also posted on its website beginning April 17 and shared in an email to delegates and alternates to the state convention.
The plaintiffs are requesting the court allow applicants who filed by April 29 to run. In addition, they want the party to pay for attorney fees and damages.
Robert Kern, an attorney and one of the plaintiffs, said he believes the state party is worried pro-Sanders people will rule the board. But so far, there was "no proof of any ill intentions," he said.
Party officials called the plaintiffs "disgruntled activists" who were misinforming their supporters.
"It is an unnecessary distraction from our shared goals as Democrats, as well as a disservice to Sanders' campaign, which has energized young voters and focused on the issues," the party said in a statement.
People pushing for Sanders and Hillary Clinton make up the candidates running for the executive board, officials added.
The lawsuit has no bearing on how many delegates Sanders and Clinton get in Nevada. But Kern said resolving the matter is still important.
"I think the ultimate thing is that regardless of if you like Hillary or you like Bernie or want to be progressive or centrist, this type of action is something that will kill the future of the party," Kern said.