Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 | 2 a.m.
You can tell a lawmaker’s standing by their office — not the political one but the physical one, where they rest their committee binders between meetings and get an ounce of privacy.
Lawmakers with leadership positions or who lead important committees get the corner office space and maybe even a small conference room.
For Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, it’s room 3116, dubbed informally the “bad-boy office” or “the dog house.” It’s the smallest office in the building, and it’s right next to a bathroom.
With Democrats in control of the Legislature, the “bad-boy office” is traditionally used as a sort of punishment to those Republicans on the outs with leadership.
It’s a tight squeeze, but Hambrick graciously invited a Sun reporter in for a short interview. His joviality, however, seemed a bit forced.
"This is the north wing," he said, sweeping his arm in a mock of the lack of grandeur. "And here's the south wing."
There’s a window — which not every office has. But the view in the foreground is a black gravelly roof. In the distance are snow-capped mountains, which is nice.
“I’m putting in a memo for a 12-by-12 expansion right out here,” he said looking out the window, at the rooftop.
The office was created in 2007, and its first occupant was Bob Beers. No, not the well-known conservative state senator turned Las Vegas City councilman. It was the other Bob Beers, elected to one term in the Assembly, mainly because voters were confused.
Then there was Ty Cobb, the Assembly Republican who voted against Speaker Barbara Buckley in 2007, the first nay in memory in what had historically been a ceremonial sign of bipartisan niceness on the first day. Then, it was held by Ed Goedhart, whose rift with leadership was not entirely clear. But he was a fiercely conservative lawmaker who was once caught looking at naked ladies on his laptop while on the floor of the Assembly — accidently, he said.
So, Hambrick's crime: a mailer he sent at the end of a bitter — and successful — campaign by Assembly Republicans last year to oust the presumptive speaker-to-be, Marcus Conklin.
The mailer was brutal, even by today’s political standard. The piece, sent by Hambrick’s political action committee, featured a man’s hand over the mouth of a wide-eyed young woman. In large type were the words: “Children are being kidnapped, pimped, raped & beaten because leaders like Assemblyman Marcus Conklin refused to act.”
Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, doesn’t shrink from the reason for Hambrick’s office assignment.
“Mr. Hambrick has that office solely because of that mail piece,” he said. “I believe in repercussions, on either side, for mail pieces that are beyond the pale. ... That’s why I did that.”
In retrospect, Hambrick said he would have done some “wordsmithing” on the language in the mailer. But generally, he stands by it.
Hambrick grimaces at the office but doesn't complain, at least in this interview.
"Shame on us if we're here for the trappings,” he said. “They could give me a desk in the hallway, I wouldn’t care.”
In 30 years in law enforcement, Hambrick said he has had a variety of offices and desks — next to bathrooms, for instance.
“Actually,” he said, pausing a moment to think. “I can hear the toilets flush here.”