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Another Casualty in the War on Conservatives

Just when you thought Speaker-of-the-Weak John Hambrick had done all the damage he could possibly do to anti-tax hike conservatives in the State Assembly, he found yet another loose end to tie up, and in the process damaged the reputation of a young man who sure as shinola didn’t deserve it.

Geoff Lawrence is an economist by trade who has been doing yeoman’s work as a budget analyst for the past few years at the conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI).  He’s been the leading architect of credible, substantive proposals to reign in, streamline and cut government spending at the state level, as well as the chief author of NPRI’s annual “Piglet Book,” a publication shining the light on wasteful and outright foolish government spending in Nevada.

Lawrence is a highly-respected fiscal conservative who has spoken on government spending issues all across the country, as well as in newspaper, television and radio interviews.  He’s quite the gregarious individual with an infectious laugh, a lovely young wife, an 18-month-old son and a second child due in April.

After the historic Republican take-over of the Nevada State Assembly in November, the Republican Assembly Caucus (RAC) offered Lawrence the position of Policy Director.  It was a position tailor-made for him, his expertise and his experience.  So Lawrence took the position, loaded up his family and moved to Carson City in December.

Then the spit hit the spam.

Moderate Republicans, led by Hambrick, wanted to grease the skids for Gov. Brian “America’s Worst Governor” Sandoval’s (R&R-Advertising) Billion Dollar Tax Hike, maneuvered back in December to oust conservative Assemblywoman Michele Fiore from her position as Chairman of the Taxation Committee, as well as from her elected position as Majority Leader.

At the same time, Hambrick removed conservative Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman and Assemblyman Brent Jones from the Taxation Committee, as well.

As there weren’t enough conservatives in the RAC to block these purges, conservatives resigned themselves to political reality and moved on.

But Hambrick wasn’t done.

Just two days after being officially sworn in as Speaker this week, it was announced that Lawrence had “resigned.”

Now, everyone who knows Geoff knew something wasn’t right.

Why in the world would he “resign” from a job he was born for – and had permanently moved his young family and pregnant wife to Carson City for – just two days into the session?  It made no sense.

As Lawrence was unwilling to discuss the matter, I asked several RAC members what the deal was.  All I was told initially was that it was a “personnel matter” and that Lawrence was let go “for cause.”

“For cause”?

That’s a serious allegation that could seriously hurt someone’s reputation.  What in the world could Lawrence have possibly done to warrant being fired…er, I mean resign against his will…”for cause”?

So I did some more digging.  And of all the low-down, dirty-dealing, double-crossing things Hambrick’s done since ascending to the throne back in December, this is indeed the lowest.

Someone in the caucus leadership leaked information about the “personnel matter” to Jon Ralston, Nevada’s #2 liberal-blogger-without-a-TV-show.  Ralston, in turn, blogged that the incident had something to do with Lawrence and his former employer, NPRI.

Since Lawrence understandably wasn’t talking about the matter for fear of making a bad situation worse, I called Victor Joecks, NPRI’s vice president and full-time representative in Carson City, and asked what he knew of the situation.

And you’re not going to believe this…

Joecks and Lawrence, of course, were colleagues at NPRI.  And naturally, they continued their friendship and professional relationship in Carson City for the legislative session.  Naturally, they talked often and, even more naturally, they talked about the state budget and the proposed tax hike.

In one of those conservations the pair discussed a document prepared by the taxpayer-funded Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) which showed that Sandoval’s proposed tax hike was some $200 million HIGHER than Sandoval was telling the public.

Again, this was a PUBLIC DOCUMENT that numerous people in Carson City had a copy of, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with confidential Republican Assembly Caucus business.

Joecks, of course, wanted to make the public document public so that you and I would know that the governor’s figures weren’t accurate.  However, Lawrence didn’t want to be the source of the public disclosure.  So he asked Joecks to find another source to provide him a copy of the document before releasing and publishing it.

Which he did.

Joecks told me he obtained a copy of the exact same document from State Controller Ron Knecht.  And only after obtaining a copy of the document from Mr. Knecht did Joecks make it public and blow the whistle.

Again, this was a public document prepared at taxpayer expense that was widely circulated.  It was not some top secret, confidential internal memo relating to RAC business.

Nevertheless, because Lawrence supposedly admitted to discussing the document with Joecks, Hambrick used that incident as a BS excuse to fire the highly-respected, highly-ethical Lawrence “for cause.”

I’m sorry.  I mean, Lawrence “resigned” against his will.

This is just sickening.

Hambrick was clearly just looking for a reason to get rid of this rock-solid fiscal conservative who clearly could help Republicans in the Assembly find alternatives to Sandoval’s Billion Dollar Tax Hike.

And in the process, he trashed a good man’s good reputation by telling people he was released “for cause” when there clearly was no cause whatsoever other than the fact that Lawrence was a rock-solid fiscal conservative who opposes Sandoval’s  Billion Dollar Tax Hike.

Oh, and get this…

Rumor has it that Lawrence will be replaced with Majority Leader Paul Anderson’s anti-conservative/pro-tax hike political adviser Cory Christensen who was fired by the caucus as a political consultant last December for, among other things, undermining conservatives during the 2014 elections.

Insult to injury for conservatives if it comes to pass.

In any event, Geoff Lawrence didn’t deserved to be treated like this.

Hambrick should be ashamed.

If the Speaker-of-the-Weak wanted to get rid of Lawrence for philosophical or political reasons, he should have at least been man enough to do it straight up instead of fabricating this bogus “for cause” excuse and hurting Lawrence’s reputation.

Shameful.  Just shameful.

I’m hearing that as each day has gone by, Hambrick, drunk with power, has been strutting around the legislative building with his chest puffed out like some barnyard cock.  Oh, how I’m going to enjoy it when this back-stabber’s political neck is finally cut off.

Let the recall begin!