Nevada governor’s chief of staff quits |

Nevada governor’s chief of staff quits

Brendan Riley / Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Josh Hicks, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons’ chief of staff, said Tuesday he’s quitting after 2 1/2 years as a senior staffer to the Republican governor, who plans to seek re-election despite a tumultuous first term.

“It’s time to move on, spend more time with my family and seek out some new opportunities,” said Hicks, an attorney who served as Gibbons’ general counsel and deputy chief of staff prior to being named staff chief a year ago.

Hicks, who added that it was “a tremendous honor” to have worked for Gibbons, will be replaced on an acting basis by Gibbons’ deputy staff chief, Mendy Elliott. His last day in the office will be June 26.

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns, speaking as a fellow staffer, said he was sorry to see Hicks leave, adding that he was a big help to the governor during the recently ended 2009 legislative session that was “very contentious at times.”

Hicks moved into the chief of staff position as part of a mid-2008 shakeup by Gibbons, who was facing an abysmal approval rating of about 21 percent as a result of personal scandals, troubled appointments and gaffes since taking office. There has been only slight improvement in Gibbons’ ratings, now at about 25 percent.

During the 2009 session, legislators approved a $781 million tax increase plan and also rejected his proposed budget in approving a $6.8 billion two-year spending plan for the state, in both instances overriding Gibbons’ vetoes.

The vetoed bills were among 48 rejected by the governor, a record for a Nevada governor. Lawmakers responded with a total of 25 veto overrides, another state record.

Gibbons also is going through a difficult divorce from his wife, Dawn, a popular first lady who was described in his divorce filing paperwork as akin to an “enraged ferret” trapped in a phone booth.

Since being elected in 2006, Gibbons also was accused of sexual assault, sending love notes on a state cell phone, improperly firing a state employee and now, in court documents filed by Dawn Gibbons, a history of infidelity.

He also was investigated by the Justice Department, which cleared him of corruption charges. An ethics commission probed his real estate dealings, though it, too, found no evidence of wrongdoing.

While some of the allegations have been dropped and others are still pending in court, all have played out before the voting public in quick succession.

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