- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The speaker of the Nevada Assembly has criticized an assemblywoman’s statement questioning his authority to remove her from two leadership positions, marking the latest development in a power struggle among Republicans in the chamber.

In a statement Saturday, Speaker-elect John Hambrick urged Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, to quit playing “childish games” and said he had the authority to remove her as majority leader and taxation committee chair.

The dispute prompted Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, to refer to the GOP caucus as “a second-rate Vegas lounge act.”

Republicans in November captured control of the Assembly for the first time since 1985. They’ll have a 25-17 edge over Democrats when the 2015 session convenes on Feb. 2.

Lawmakers officially vote on the leadership positions that day, but it’s more of a formality based on earlier caucus elections under rules adopted by each party caucus.

Hambrick said majority leadership positions are appointed by the speaker, and he disputed Fiore’s claim that she was removed from her post because of “a GOP war on women.”

He said he based his action solely on her conduct.

Fiore was removed from the two leadership posts amid reports the IRS had filed hundreds of thousands of dollars in liens against her in the past decade.

“Instead of explaining your IRS issues publicly like you had agreed to do, you squandered the opportunity by maliciously attacking two respected consultants and a caucus donor,” Hambrick said, referring to Fiore’s criticism of the Republican consultants during a radio interview.

Hambrick said he also removed her because of insubordination.

Fiore said Friday that Hambrick had no grounds to oust her from her second-in-command leadership position two weeks ago, and she plans to keep the job unless she is formally voted out by the GOP caucus.

“You were elected by the Assembly Republican Caucus as the speaker-designee, not as an all-powerful potentate,” she said in her statement. “There is no rule in the Assembly Standing Rules that allows you to arbitrarily remove me from an elected caucus position.”

Fiore said she wants the Republican caucus to settle the matter at a meeting Monday in Carson City after the inauguration of statewide elected officials.

Hambrick said she has no authority to call the meeting because she’s not the majority leader.

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