Virginia man accused of battery by Nevada campaign manager

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A political operative from Virginia with a history of confronting Republican political figures faces a misdemeanor battery charge in Nevada after witnesses say he pushed into a GOP campaign event and grabbed the manager of state Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s gubernatorial campaign.

Wilfred Michael Stark, 50, of Falls Church, Virginia, was freed Wednesday from Las Vegas city jail on $1,140 bail following his Tuesday evening arrest, said Jace Radke, a city spokesman. Radke said he didn’t immediately know Stark’s court date. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.

Stark told the officer who took him into custody at a Las Vegas community center that he was attacked “because he was a Democrat in a room full of Republicans,” according to the arrest report.

Witnesses provided statements saying Stark declared several times, “I do this for a living.”

Laxalt campaign spokesman Parker Briden linked Stark with American Bridge 21st Century, a group that supports Democratic candidates and says it is committed to holding Republicans accountable.

An American Bridge official did not immediately respond to telephone and email messages.

The organization spoke on behalf of Stark in March, following his arrest in Washington, D.C., on a simple assault charge for allegedly using his body to push a top aide to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke outside a congressional hearing. American Bridge said Stark “adamantly” denied the allegations.

Stark also was arrested a year ago in suburban Virginia and charged with creating a disturbance while videotaping a parade appearance by GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie for ShareBlue Media, an American Bridge affiliate. He was convicted of disorderly conduct, according to a report in the Fairfax County Times.

In Las Vegas, Laxalt campaign chief Kristin Davison made a citizen’s arrest after she and witnesses said Stark pushed into a room and grabbed her arm hard enough to leave red marks.

“Mike Stark aggressively interrupted our conversation, both by loudly yelling and physically shoving a camera and his body at the attorney general and me,” Davison’s signed police complaint said. “I asked him to back away and he did not.”

Davison told The Associated Press she suffered bruises and pain.

Democratic candidate Steve Sisolak’s campaign and state Democratic party officials denied any connection to Stark.

“No one should ever feel unsafe at a political event,” Sisolak spokeswoman Christina Amestoy said in a statement. “We strongly condemn this violence.”