Consultants for NV GOP sought out Proud Boys for post-election rally

"Congratulations to my Chairman from the Battle Born State on his decisive re-election victory Michael J. McDonald," Woodrow Johnston wrote with this picture posted on his Facebook page in September 2019.

A consultant hired by the Republican Party to “help with Nevada ballots” worked on election night to “get the Proud Boys out” to a post-election rally protesting the validity of balloting in the presidential election, according to an email obtained by the Nevada Current from a former Republican operative.  

“Not sure yet, but don’t pull the trigger,” Woodrow Johnston, Vice President of McShane LLC, wrote to Sarah Cirillo at 10:23 on election night. “But Gosar is leading the charge on a ‘Brooks Brothers Riot’ down in AZ,he wrote, referring to Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar.We might need to do the same here in Nevada.” 

“Okay,” responds Cirillo, known at the time as a Republican operative. She has since changed her last name to Ashton, is running for Las Vegas City Council, and told the Current she aligned with the Republican party to assist in the election of her best friend, Nadia Krall, who ran for judge in 2020. 

“Which means we need to get the Proud Boys out,” Johnston wrote. “I’ll let you know as soon as I know it’s happening.  But wanted you to be mentally ready.” 

At 11:05 p.m., Ashton (Cirillo) sends an email to a group of Republicans saying she “just received this from the GOP. They are asking me to potentially gather the ‘boys and all the patriots and lead a literal (non violent) charge on the County Elections office.”

“This would be the moment to save our nation,” Ashton writes. “Support would come from the state party.”

“I thought it was all over after the election,” Ashton said in an interview.  “Then came the Big Lie.”

The Proud Boys call themselves ‘Western chauvinists’ and deny any connection to alt-right groups.  

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported last week about an attempt by the Proud Boys to gain control of the Clark County Republican Party and an investigation into the activists’ role in censuring Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske for endorsing the legitimacy of the presidential election in Nevada. 

A Proud Boys member who shouted about taking over the capitol on January 6 was arrested last week.

Rory McShane, principal of McShane LLC, says he’s unaware of a request by anyone from his company to involve the Proud Boys in Republican politics.  

“I have no reason to believe that’s the case. That would be the first time I’ve heard of it,” he told the Current. 

Johnston was travelling and not immediately available for comment, according to McShane.  

Take Back the West paid McShane LLC $20,279 in 2020. It was the sole recipient of funds from the PAC, which was filed in 2018. 

The PAC received $15,000 from the Nevada Republican Party in October 2020. State Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald did not respond to requests for comment. 

Take Back the West also received $50,000 from the South Point Hotel and Casino five days after the 2020 election.

“This information had to come out,” Ashton said in a statement late Thursday. “The McShane group knew I was a progressive and despite that, relied on me for help. If I didn’t specify that the protestors should forego violence, I’m not sure what would have happened.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Dana Gentry
Senior Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, a grandson, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.