‘Jimbo eruptions’ hit Gibbons’ campaign in final weeks | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Jimbo eruptions’ hit Gibbons’ campaign in final weeks

Kirk Caraway

We’ve come to expect crazy stuff to happen in the last few weeks of any campaign, but the latest revelations about Congressman Jim Gibbons are just out of this world.

You’ve probably already heard the story. Gibbons and his advisor Sig Rogich were flirting with four attractive young women who are not their wives. Afterward, Gibbons escorted one of the women, Chrissy Mazzeo, to her vehicle, at which time, the woman alleges, the congressman propositioned and assaulted her.

There are a lot of people out there who will say don’t believe what this woman says, it’s a set up, she is trying to trash his campaign, etc. And I say, yes, don’t believe her. Believe Jim Gibbons’ account of the incident, 100 percent.

And if you do accept the congressman’s version of events, you will also have to admit that he must be a few bricks short of a full load.

Here you have a man who is a few weeks away from becoming the next governor. He’s ahead in the polls and about the only thing that will stop him is some kind of scandal. So he celebrates his good fortune by having some drinks with a group of attractive young women, and then walks, alone, with one of them into a parking lot close to his hotel room?

Jim Gibbons is no political novice. He has been a congressman for 10 years, and a state assemblyman before that. He voted to impeach Bill Clinton for his sexual misdeeds. He had a front-row seat for the downfall of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his chosen successor Bob Livingston. And he is witness to the current Mark Foley sexual predator scandal.

So how could he think that cavorting in a bar with a group of attractive young women in the middle of a campaign could be a good thing? He’s been in politics long enough to know that appearances are critically important. When bar patrons start snapping camera phone pictures of you and your female companions, any politician who is not stupid drunk would be heading for the door, with his political advisor in tow.

If this whole incident wasn’t enough, then up pops the illegal nanny.

Federal paperwork signed by Gibbons’ wife Dawn in 1988, under penalty of perjury, shows the family hired Patricia Pastor Sandoval in 1987, and that she worked full time in the Gibbons’ home for a salary of $800 a month.

But Gibbons tried to weasel his way out of this one, saying that they didn’t really hire her, they didn’t really pay her, they just let her do odd jobs and gave her gifts like food and clothing.

Is this the kind of wishy-washy answers we are going to get for the next four years? There is no legal distinction between the woman working full or part time, or getting paid in cash or clothes. All that Gibbons’ excuses do is set his wife up for a charge of perjury.

The more you look at these two incidents, the more he starts to sound like Bill Clinton. Local conservative activist Chuck Muth even modified the famous “bimbo eruptions” tag to make it fit, though he might not like the way it’s being used.

Back in July, I interviewed Gibbons and asked him about illegal immigration. He claimed, incredibly, that there were no illegals working in Nevada casinos. At the time I thought he was just sheltered from the problem because of the time he spends in Washington. Now I realize he was sheltering the problem in his basement.

If Gibbons had just admitted to hiring Sandoval way back in 1995 when it first came to light, it wouldn’t be much of an issue today. But instead he wants to trot out the allegations that Sandoval tried to extort money out of the family, as if that has any bearing on whether he violated immigration laws. All that does is make the story more tawdry, and keeps it alive.

Forget about Gibbons’ stands on the issues. What these incidents bring into question is whether he has the political acumen to be the chief executive of this state. In Congress, he was just one of 435 members, and other scandals tended to be much bigger than his. He could get away with plagiarizing speeches and claiming those who question the excesses of corporate lobbying are “communists.”

But is Gibbons ready to stand alone on the stage, to represent the state without making us look foolish? Will he be any better than his opponent, Dina Titus, whose Georgia accent irritates people like fingernails on a chalkboard? I guess we’ll find out Nov. 7.

– Kirk Caraway is editor of nevadapolitics.com, and also writes a blog on national issues at kirkcaraway.com.

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