Assembly Speaker-elect John Hambrick advised via press release yesterday that he was removing Republican Assembly Caucus Majority Leader Michele Fiore as Chairman of both the all-important Taxation Committee AND as Majority Leader without consulting with his caucus in advance.
Looks like he got a little ahead of himself.
Hambrick’s unilateral decision was made after Fiore did a series of media interviews on Tuesday in which she explained that her businesses ran into trouble with the IRS due to embezzlement by a former employee. She said she made repayment arrangements with the IRS and has been making payments of $5,000 a month to settle the liens.
So what’s the problem? LOTS of people have run-ins with the IRS. And as one of them – experiencing that absolutely hellish nightmare first hand – let me tell you it’s experience worth having in a Chairman of the Taxation Committee!
But back to the press release. Hambrick said he found her explanations about the IRS liens “unacceptable.” Not that the caucus found her explanations about the IRS liens unacceptable. He, personally.
Judge. Jury. Executioner.
And for the life of me, I don’t know how he came to that conclusion.
Is he saying she lied about having had an employee embezzle from her company with the money that was supposed to be paid to the IRS?
Is he saying she’s lying when she says she has agreed to a repayment plan with the IRS and has been making payments as agreed?
If so, on what basis did he come to those guilty-until-proved-innocent conclusions?
But the real howler in the statement was Hambrick’s claim that Fiore’s interviews on Tuesday “have left our caucus further divided.”
Ladies and gentlemen, Moses couldn’t unite these people. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put this Humpty Dumpty caucus together again. In fact, Hambrick’s move only made a bad situation worse.
Leave aside the fact that he looks totally ridiculous and indecisive by removing Fiore from Taxation…then the next day putting her back on Taxation…then a couple days later taking her off Taxation…and who knows what’s going to happen today?
THE REAL AGENDA
Look, we all know what’s really going on here.
The establishment moderate Republicans want a billion dollar tax hike in the coming session.
And the last thing they want running the show in the Assembly Taxation Committee is a conservative who has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising the people of Nevada that she’ll “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
That’s the same Tax Pledge, by the way, that Hambrick initially refused to sign when he first ran for the Assembly…but signed in the next campaign after his primary opponent signed it…and then went on a local public affairs TV program – since cancelled – the very day after his election as Speaker-elect and “pulled a Roberson” by saying he would break it to vote for the governor’s tax hike proposal.
So he was against the Tax Pledge before he was for it. And now is against it again. Check.
But back to Fiore…
NOW PLAYING LEFT FIELD
Did Hambrick remove her as chair of the Tax Committee because of her situation with the IRS? No. She was removed because she’s an outspoken, unapologetic conservative who is seen as a roadblock to the coming Sandoval tax hike.
What evidence to back up that opinion? Just look at who Hambrick appointed to replace Fiore…
For the Majority Leader position, Hambrick didn’t tap another conservative member of the caucus.
No, he tapped moderate Assemblyman Paul Anderson, who is not a signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and voted last year to extend the “sunsets.”
And to replace Fiore as chair of the Taxation Committee – and this one is truly unbelievable – Hambrick appointed a FRESHMAN moderate, Derek Armstrong, who has yet to spend so much as a single day in the Legislature and has never even cast a legislative vote, let alone chaired a committee meeting.
And – you guessed it – Armstrong also has refused to sign the Tax Pledge.
If you’re still a doubting Thomas, consider this excerpt from a story on this brewing brouhaha which appears in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal
“The appointments are also a plus for (Gov. Brian) Sandoval, who is expected to seek increased funding levels for education when he presents his budget… Sandoval will need the support of Republicans and Democrats to get the two-thirds vote needed to raise new tax revenue.”
Now get this further absurd explanation that Hambrick gave the RJ for removing Fiore and replacing her with Anderson…
“Anderson was originally elected the majority leader and I believe the majority of caucus members were correct in this.”
Oh, dear Lord.
By this insane course of logic, Assemblyman Ira Hansen was originally elected Speaker-elect by a majority of caucus members, so Hambrick should be removed now and Hansen put back in that position?
On the other hand, once Anderson gave up his position as Majority Leader to run unsuccessfully against Hambrick for Speaker-elect, Fiore ran for the Majority Leader position and was elected by a majority of caucus members.
As Hambrick knows full well. He was one of those who voted for her!
So what Hambrick is really saying here to his colleagues is…
“You elected me and you elected Michele. But Paul isn’t happy with losing to me and losing his position to Michele. So instead of letting the caucus decide, I’m just going to unilaterally undo Michele’s election and give Paul back his old job.”
It’s good ta be da king!
Seriously. If Fiore was elected by the caucus, how can Hambrick single-handedly and unilaterally remove her? Who’s he think he is, Kim Jung-un?
EXPOSING THE TAX LIEN LIE
Still not convinced that this is a War on Conservatives hidden by a slight-of-hand attack on Fiore’s finances?
Sit down and be prepared to have your delusion completely, totally shattered once and for all.
When Hambrick first announced that he was removing Fiore as Taxation Chairman, he also announced that he was removing freshman conservative Republican Assemblywoman and Tax Pledge signer Victoria Seaman from the Taxation Committee, as well.
So if this was really all about Fiore’s tax liens, then why kick Seaman off the Tax Committee with her? Seaman has no tax lien issues with the IRS.
No, by kicking Seaman off the Tax Committee along with Fiore, Hambrick revealed that it was all about getting rid of conservatives, not tax liens. It was plain as day.
OK, now get this…
Not only did Hambrick remove Fiore as Majority Leader yesterday, but he also – secretly – without telling his caucus – and without telling the public – removed conservative Assemblyman John Ellison from the position of Speaker Pro Tem and replaced him with liberal Republican tax-hiking Assemblyman Lynn “The Bug Man” Stewart!
Ellison has no tax lien problem with the IRS. So, then, why did Hambrick screw him, too, yesterday?
Come on, people! How much clearer can it get?
The Republican establishment isn’t out to get Fiore over those tax liens. The tax liens are a smoke screen.
They’re after EVERY conservative.
But here’s where it gets really embarrassing.
After the secret decision to remove Ellison became known, Hambrick got some blowback.
So what did he do?
What he always does.
He reversed himself AGAIN and put Ellison back on as Speaker Pro Tem!
For his part, Anderson – who with Hambrick’s move got back the job Fiore took from him in a caucus election a little over a week ago – told the RJ that “Speaker Hambrick did what he thought best to unite the caucus and bring an end to the internal strife.”
Hoo-ahh! What a whopper! Anderson’s nose must be about ten-foot long this morning after that one!
Removing Fiore as both Chairman of Taxation and as Majority Leader has only further divided the caucus, not unite it.
Removing Fiore as both Chairman of Taxation and as Majority Leader has only made the internal strife worse, not better.
This was a stupid move, period.
Even if the decisions hold up – and there’s no guarantee they will, since Hambrick had no authority to unilaterally undo an election – Hambrick has shown himself to be completely incapable of providing the steady, unwavering leadership necessary to serve as Speaker of the Assembly for the 2015 session.
His decisions are apparently based upon the opinions of the last person he talks to.
So you can’t take his word to the bank.
Plus, Hambrick is clearly cowed by the governor, lobbyists and donors who presently control the GOP establishment in Nevada and is willing to do their bidding to curry their favor.
He’s made himself look more like Pee Wee Herman than Stormin’ Norman Schwartzkopf.
BREAK OUT THE MUSICAL CHAIRS
Indeed, Hambrick has so embarrassed himself and irreparably damaged his reputation by demonstrating all the leadership resolve of a bowl of Jello that, frankly, he needs to step down as Speaker-elect.
Because if he thinks selling out the conservative members of his caucus and siding with the moderates means the moderates won’t now pursue the “nuclear option” and displace him on February 2nd, he’s sadly mistaken.
Hambrick has, unfortunately, shown himself to be both weak and unreliable. Why would Democrats want to deal with someone whose decisions blow with the wind when they can gang up and install a true tax-hiking moderate Republican instead?
You want to know how to reach Mr. Hambrick?
Well, according to his campaign website – which reads, “It is imperative that I have your feedback so I can best represent you in the legislature” – here’s how to weigh in…
Cell Phone: (702) 499-6169
Just trying to help!