‘Dirty Tricks’ Allegations Heat Up Ahead of Nevada GOP Caucus

Trump campaign accuses Cruz of enabling potential election law violations

Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz at the the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum / AP
• February 23, 2016 5:00 pm


Donald Trump’s presidential campaign suggested Monday that the supporters of Republican presidential rival Ted Cruz could violate election laws during Tuesday’s Nevada Republican caucuses, according to a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter cites a recent Wall Street Journal story, which reported that the Cruz campaign had advised supporters to keep smartphone video cameras handy in order to "record anything that looks suspicious."

Trump’s attorneys suggested that that could violate Nevada law, which "prohibits the photographing, recording, or videotaping the conduct of voting at a polling place, except for newsgathering and reporting purposes," according to the letter.

It also cited guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice, which warned that "actions designed to interrupt or intimidate voters at polling places by questioning or challenging them—or by photographing or videotaping them—under the pretext that these actions are meant to uncover illegal voting may violate federal law."

The letter came as tensions escalated between Trump, Cruz, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), the three Republican frontrunners. Both Rubio and Trump have accused the Cruz campaign of "dirty tricks" in recent weeks.

The Trump campaign’s letter reiterated those allegations, rattling off a list of "Senator Cruz and his campaign’s track record of election shenanigans."

The letter was sent on Monday to Nevada Republican Party chairman Michael McDonald and asked McDonald to "clarify whether or not such taping is permissible at the Caucuses, given that it appears potentially to be in contravention of federal and state law."

The state party released a statement Tuesday evening attempting to address the concerns. "No member of the general public shall be permitted to photograph, film or otherwise record the caucusing process," it said.

The Trump and Cruz campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Though it did not cite calls to record caucus sites, the Rubio campaign also warned supporters on Tuesday of "dirty tricks" by his rivals.

"We are concerned that the Cruz campaign will try to do to Marco or other candidates what they did to Ben Carson and systematically distribute false and malicious rumors," Rubio’s Nevada campaign told supporters in an email.

That statement referred to controversy over the Cruz campaign’s reported efforts to imply that Carson had withdrawn from the race after a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses.

The Rubio campaign directed supporters to a dedicated email address——where, the campaign said, they could report such tactics and help "push back on the relentlessly negative tactics of our opponents."