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ANNOUNCEMENT: 2024 Conservative Award Recipients

Citizen Outreach’s annual fun-filled, action-packed, star-studded conservative awards dinner will be held next Wednesday at the Italian American Club in Las Vegas.  It sold out weeks ago.

And without further ado, here’s who we’ll be honoring…

Californian of the Year: Julie Pazina

We’ve added a new award (of sorts) to this year’s list of honorees: “Californian of the Year.”

As everyone in Nevada is keenly aware, we’ve been getting a lot of Californians moving here for the last three decades.  But there are two kinds.  There are refugees fleeing the liberal hellhole, and missionaries hellbent to turning our state into East California.

We welcome the refugees but need to build a wall to keep out the missionaries!

The “Californian of the Year” need not be an ex-Californian. Rather, the honoree (of sorts) is being recognized for their efforts to transform the Silver State into the Golden State.

Nevada State Sen. Julie Pazina was Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee in the 2023 session of the Nevada Legislature.  And as chair, her committee introduced Senate Bill 49 (SB49).

If approved, SB49 would have authorized Nevada’s State Environmental Commission “to adopt standards and other requirements for the control of emissions from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines that are identical to the standards and requirements adopted by the State of California.”

Ugh.  This is the same state that’s trying to ban the sale of all new gas-powered cars, trucks and SUVs by 2035.  If you like gas-powered car…sorry, Charlie, you can’t keep it.

Pazina was nominated for the Californian of the Year by Citizen Outreach Vice President Dan Burdish.  Her selection was unanimous, and she’ll be extended a special “Horse’s Ass” trophy at Wednesday’s dinner.

I wonder who will accept it on her behalf?

Conservative of the Year: Iris Stone

In November 2023 – while having breakfast on the Lido Deck off the coast of Mexico during Citizen Outreach’s “ConservaCruise” with our good friend Bill Laub – I received an email from Jameson Campaign, a former board member of the American Conservative Union (ACU) who I’d worked with twenty-some years ago in DC, about the fight for election integrity.

Jameson suggested that cleaning up the voter rolls in Nevada would be a valuable project for Citizen Outreach Foundation to undertake.  I was intrigued.  So I started looking into it.

The following month, I attended Grover Norquist’s “Coalition Leaders Summit” in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and consulted with a number of conservative leaders there who were already working on the issue in other states.

It was there that I was put in touch with another former ACU alumnus, Cleta Mitchell, of the national Election Integrity Network (EIN).  Then all the pieces started coming together.

Iris Stone was already a member of EIN and working here in Nevada.  So we arranged a meeting.  And I fell in love.

No, not like that, silly.  I fell in love with Iris’ organizational abilities and grasp of the issue – including the various convoluted election laws and the need to work WITH election officials to cooperatively fix the problem, not attack them.

Thus the Pigpen Project was launched.

Iris dove in head-first and began developing a training program for volunteers.

She taught them the laws and the proper procedures and processes needed to actually get ineligible voters removed from the voter rolls or switched to “inactive” status so they’d no longer be automatically sent a mail-in ballot, greatly reducing the potential for voting fraud.

Before you knew it, Iris had boots on the ground in Clark County collecting signed affidavits the Pigpen Project then submitted to the elections office.

Between Iris and Dan Burdish, our world-class data cruncher, the Pigpen Project quickly became a national model for other states.  And we’re now prepared to take the project statewide here in Nevada.

The thing about Iris is she prefers to stay in the background and out of the limelight.  She hates the idea of being publicly recognized for her efforts and success.  But due credit is due.

So I’m ignoring her wishes for the first time since we started working together by publicly honoring her as Citizen Outreach Foundation’s 2024 “Conservative of the Year.”

No one is more deserving.  She’s made a HUGE difference.  Wish we could clone her!

Courage Under Fire Award: Valeria Gurr

When it comes to school choice, Valeria Gurr is a force of nature.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in marketing in Chile before immigrating to the United States.  She went on to earn her master’s degree in journalism and media studies at UNLV and is currently working on her PhD in Public Affairs.

Valeria first got involved in the school choice movement a few years ago after discussing it with a friend and hearing from a number of parents about how low-income families were getting the shaft when it came to education.

“As a first-generation immigrant, I really thought these things only happened in a third-world country,” she said. “I was shocked to see some of the problems in the schools that I visited.”

Valeria also came to understand that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to teaching kids and that our education priority should be on students and not systems.  She believes all families deserve school choice – be it public, private, charter, or homeschooling – regardless of their family’s economic situation.

“To me, school choice means that students have the opportunity to exit poverty” she says. “I’m proof of that. And I know many parents are searching for it.”

Valeria has become one of the most influential Hispanics in all of Nevada and is a Senior Fellow for the American Federation for Children, where she travels all over the country preaching the gospel of school choice.

She’s been featured on CNN, Fox News, the Washington Post, The Hill, the Daily Caller,, the Washington Examiner, and the Washington Times, as well as Univision and Telemundo.

“I couldn’t even imagine doing something different because I really love what I do,” Valeria said in an interview. “I have seen the change in so many kids and they have told me their stories. I’ve been there to see how giving them access to a school choice has changed their lives.”

With a new governor in office, school choice advocates were optimistic that significant reforms would be passed in the 2023 session of the Nevada Legislature.  Gov. Joe Lombardo proposed increased funding for the state’s Opportunity Scholarship program while Republican legislators pushed to resurrect Education Savings Accounts.

Valeria was front and center during legislative hearings and at public events drumming up support.  She was criticized, belittled, ridiculed, and attacked by public school apologists determined to protect the existing failed system.

In the end, the Democrat majority killed every effort to give students and their families greater school choice, including cuts to the Opportunity Scholarship program which mostly benefits low-income, minority children.

Valeria was frustrated.  Disappointed.  Angry.  But not defeated.

She’s already out on the campaign trail exposing legislators who stand in the way of school choice while championing champions of educational freedom.

“We’re on the right side of history,” she says.  “This should not be a political issue.  Democrat and Republican voters support school choice because it’s the right thing to do.  I hope lawmakers eventually come to realize that.”

Thanks in large part to Valeria’s efforts, more and more are coming to that realization every day.  It’s no longer a question of *if* greater school choice will become a reality in Nevada; it’s when.

For her passion, her energy, her resolution in the face of adversity, and her never-say-die commitment to the families and students deserving of freedom of choice in education, Citizen Outreach Foundation is proud to honor Valeria Gurr with this year’s “Courage Under Fire” award.

Rising Star:  Danielle Gallant

Danielle Gallant ran for the first time in 2022 for the Nevada State Assembly.  I’d only met her once, briefly, at a fundraising event for the Nevada Firearms Coalition.  And I endorsed her Republican primary opponent.

But Danielle won.  And since there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in politics, we arranged a getting-to-know-you lunch at the Claim Jumper in Green Valley.

Her husband, Paul, had been out-of-town and joined us with their two sons.  It was there that I learned the two had gotten married at Burning Man – and that was enough for me!

Danielle is clearly not your typical Republican.

As a freshman legislator, she was tapped by her colleagues to serve as the Assistant Minority Leader for Southern Nevada…and she never looked back.

Now, no two people ever agree 100% of the time – not even Siamese twins.  So let’s just say she and I had a couple of “spirited” conversations during the 2023 legislative session – and have had a couple more since.

But Danielle inherently understands some important things too many other Republicans don’t…

  • That it’s more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.
  • That you’re not the minority party, but the opposition party.
  • That majorities get to lead, and you get the majority by addition, not subtraction.
  • That to increase your numbers you need to nominate the most conservative candidate who can win.
  • That to be truly effective as a legislator, you have to master the Three P’s: Policy, Politics, and Process.
  • That when blocked by your opponents in Carson City, you have to take your case directly to the voting public.
  • That you have to engage and fight the liberal media, not ignore it – including making effective use of social and other non-traditional media.
  • That if you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs – and few egos, as well.
  • That well-behaved women rarely make history.
  • And that if you want a friend in politics, get a dog. Here are Danielle’s dogs…

But the biggest thing is that if you want to elect more candidates, you can’t just talk about it.  You have to get in the game.

You have to get your hands dirty and slug it out with your opponents, not sit around knitting scarves and sipping tea at high noon.

As such, Danielle has actively helped recruit solid candidates this election cycle.  She’s helped train them.  She’s helped them raise money – and has donated to them herself.  She attends their events.  She walks door-to-door for them. She helps lift them up when they’re feeling down.

She’s a fighter, not a spectator.

If Republicans get out of their super-minority status in the Assembly this year – and are able to protect Gov. Lombardo’s vetoes – Danielle will have been a big part of that success.  And she’s going places.

For that reason, Citizen Outreach Foundation is proud to honor Assemblywoman Danielle Gallant as this year’s “Rising Star” award recipient.

Unsung Hero: Jon Kamerath

The Republican Party (GOP) says it’s for smaller government, lower taxes, and greater individual freedom.  The Independent American Party (IAP) says it’s for smaller government, lower taxes, and greater individual freedom.

The difference, the joke goes, is that the IAP actually means it.

As such – and as a conservative first and a Republican a distant second – I’ve often supported an IAP candidate in the general election over the Republican candidate.  That includes the 2014 Nevada State Senate District 8 race.

In that contest, Republican Patricia Farley was running against Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop and the IAP’s Jon Kamerath.  I endorsed Jon, writing…

“As an unapologetic fiscal conservative, I enthusiastically endorse Jon Kamerath in the 2014 Senate District 8 race.  Jon has put his commitment to protecting the taxpayers of Nevada in writing by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and is equally committed to limited, constitutional government.  I would sleep well at night knowing that Jon was watching out for my rights and my wallet in Carson City.”

Jon was a conservative’s conservative who pulled 4 percent of the vote in that election.

Farley went on to win the race.  She then went on to vote for the largest tax hike in Nevada history.  She then went on to switch her party registration from Republican to non-partisan and allied herself with the Democrats.

Farley was a RINO’s RINO (Republican In Name Only).

Fast-forward to March 2024.  Jon filed to run for Congress in Nevada’s Third Congressional District – a key race that could well decide whether Republicans or Democrats control the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, next year.

Jon came to understand that his candidacy could well pull enough votes from the GOP candidate in the race to swing the election to the liberal Democrat incumbent and agonized over whether or not to pull out.

He didn’t want to let his supporters down.  He didn’t want to let his party down.  He didn’t want to let his family down.  And he didn’t want to let true conservatives down.

But he realized just how big the stakes were – both for Nevada and our country.  So in the end, he put Nevada first.  He put America first.

And he withdrew his candidacy before the deadline, giving the Republican nominee – whoever it turns out to be and however conservative they’ll turn out to be – a better chance to defeat the liberal incumbent.

It was a personally and politically painful decision – one that’s impossible to fully appreciate by anyone who’s never put their name on a ballot and reputation on the line – which garnered no media attention or public recognition.

And for that, Citizen Outreach is proud to honor Jon Kamerath with this year’s “Unsung Hero” award.

Reagan Legacy Award: Sig Rogich

In January of 1995, I was elected Chairman of the Clark County Republican Party. And for those fretting that today’s party is so “divided,” let me assure you that only the names have changed.  It was just as bad, if not worse, back then.

Which is why, to this day, I maintain that the best kind of party chairman to be is an EX-party chairman.

Anyway, the GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner had already been planned in advance for the following month.  All I had to do was MC the event – which was a good thing because, truthfully, I really had no idea who was who or what I was doing.  My election was more by accident than design.

I was as green to party politics as they come.  I got elected in a three-way race because half the Central Committee hated one of the candidates and the other half hated the other one.  I was too new to be so hated at the time.  That would come later. LOL

The scheduled keynote speaker for the dinner was Sig Rogich.  I’d heard his name but had never met him or spoken to him.  The only thing I knew was that he was a former ambassador somewhere and had worked on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign.

So my embarrassingly short introduction as MC amounted to: “Ladies and gentlemen, a man who needs no introduction, please welcome Sig Rogich!”


But that began a decades-long relationship – sometimes stormy, usually not.  Despite being a wet-behind-the-ears “loose cannon,” Sig always took my calls and generously gave me his time and advice – which I foolishly too often chose not to take.

Funny story: Back in 1997, Sig was hired to do “crisis management” for heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson after his infamous ear-biting fight with Evander Holyfield.

I was working as a consultant for the Nevada GOP at the time and wrote a fundraising letter for the party referencing the incident in the headline.  I was told that didn’t exactly go over too well with Sig, but he never held a grudge.

In many ways, Sig was my political mentor in politics even though I unfortunately never got to actually work for him.  If I had, I probably wouldn’t have banged my head on the ceiling and tripped over my own feet as often as I did.

So let’s see if I can do a better introduction than I did in ’95…

Sig Rogich was born in Iceland on May 17, 1944 – which means he’ll be celebrating his 80th birthday in just a couple weeks.  So an early Happy Birthday, Sig!

His family moved to Nevada in 1954.  He studied journalism at the University of Nevada Reno and founded R&R Advertising in 1973 – which became the largest advertising and marketing firm in Nevada and helped put Vegas on the map as the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Sig also became a political powerhouse and kingmaker in GOP politics.  You could write a book on his success, and somebody should.

He was a close friend and adviser to former Nevada U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt and a media consultant for former Nevada governors Mike O’Callahan, Kenny Guinn and Jim Gibbons.

He’s also been an adviser and consultant – paid and unpaid – to countless numbers of Republican candidates, up-and-down the ballot, all across the country.

“In 1984,” then-Las Vegas Sun reporter Patrick Coolican wrote in 2006, “Rogich directed what was known as the Tuesday Team, Reagan’s 1984 dream team of advertising pros, which included legends Hal Riney and Phil Dusenberry. It was one of the best campaigns ever run, and Reagan won in a landslide.”

You’ll remember that campaign as the “Morning in America” campaign.

And it was Sig who persuaded singer Lee Greenwood to donate his “God Bless the USA” song to Reagan’s campaign for the princely sum of…$1. There’s a funny story, and a bit of controversy, about that, too.  But you’ll have to ask Sig about it.

Also on the Tuesday Team was media consultant Roger Ailes, who went on to create FOX News.  Sig and Roger developed a strong and long-term relationship that stretched into former George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 1988, which included the infamous “Willie Horton” ad.

Bush won and went on to appoint Sig as Ambassador to his homeland of Iceland.

I could go on and on but need to wrap this up.

Suffice it to say it’s been an honor and privilege to know Sig and work with him on some projects – including Citizen Outreach’s effort to establish “Mount Reagan” at the peak of Frenchman Mountain outside of Las Vegas.

Sig was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the project and instrumental in getting the Nevada Board of Geographic Names to approve the designation.  Unfortunately, Democrat Rep. Dina “I’m Not Happy” Titus – a woman weaned on a pickle – introduced a bill to block the honor from being made official.

All of which is to say Citizen Outreach is proud to honor Sig Rogich with this year’s “Reagan Legacy Award.”  And I hope this write-up helps make up for the embarrassing introduction I gave him in 1995!

Congratulations and a big THANK YOU to all our award recipients.

And for those attending who have asked, the attire is business casual.  See ya Wednesday!


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