The incoming Republican speaker of the Nevada State Assembly, Ira Hansen, is stepping down from the post after the Reno News & Review brought to light his history of amazingly overt racism and bigotry.
“Politics of personal destruction win. I need to step down,” Hansen wrote in the email. “I hope that you all know that the Ira that you have known through these years and weeks is the real Ira and not what the media is painting me to be.”
“You are a great group that can hopefully do great things and my staying will harm the caucus,” he added. “I wish you all the best. Thanks for hanging tough through these difficult past days. If this were just about ‘me’ I would fight this out to the bitter end, but it is going to harm all of you.”
And of course, Hansen maintains that he’s the victim of a smear campaign and his words were distorted.
For the greater good of the State of Nevada and the cause I support it is necessary for me to withdraw as Speaker Designee. The tens of thousands of people who both read my columns and listened to my radio shows through two decades in the media know this has been a carefully orchestrated attack to remove a conservative Republican from a major leadership role in State government. The deliberate character assassination and the politics of personal destruction have totally distorted my views and record. Ultimately, this whole attack has very little to do with my views. The powers that be are planning a massive, more than one billion dollar, tax increase and I stood in the way as Speaker. I have already served two terms as an Assemblyman without any of these vicious attacks. It was only when I had risen to leadership that this smear campaign occurred. That is the real reason for this and it is vital the public understands that.
It’s a little hard to “distort” views like these, however:
Hansen has said he keeps a Confederate battle flag on the wall where he writes his columns. “I fly it proudly in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause,” he wrote.
Hansen tends to use the term “Negro” and often does not capitalize it. In one column, he described Washoe Republican Sen. Maurice Washington (whom he supported) as black but in the same column called President Obama (whom he opposes) a “negro”—lower case.