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Dr. Jekyll and Assemblywoman Hyde

You can count the number of philosophical, as opposed to rhetorical, conservatives serving in this year’s Nevada Legislature on one hand. Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-Las Vegas) is one of them.

Alas, the freshman has proved to be quite the Jekyll-and-Hyde conservative.

When Fiore has been right — as with her campus carry bill — she has been very, very right. But when she’s been wrong — breaking her signed Taxpayer Protection Pledge by voting to raise the sales tax in Clark County as a payback to the cops union for supporting her campus carry bill — she’s been very, very wrong.

And despite her self-assured and aggressive manner in pursuing a conservative agenda, something sorely lacking in most GOP legislators, Fiore also suffers from seriously thin skin and doesn’t take criticism very well, a condition that can easily turn fatal in politics.

Indeed, after recently publishing a relatively mild rebuke of Fiore’s unfortunate vote in favor of taxing your Internet purchases in my SilverState
Confidential.com e-newsletter, the assemblywoman had a cow and sent me a profanity-laced email which included the following:

“Stick your pledge up your (deleted) while your (sic) at it.”

While I gotta admire her spirit, it’s not my pledge. As a candidate last year, Fiore herself signed the Tax Pledge promising to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes if elected. And it was Fiore who willingly and intentionally broke her own word to her own constituents.

I wonder if she’ll tell them to stick their votes up their (deleted) when she runs for re-election next year?

That aside, while Fiore is often uncouth and undisciplined, she at least has shown an ability to learn from her mistakes and take corrective action. Indeed, in a follow-up email to a constituent who also criticized Fiore’s vote in favor of the online tax bill, the assemblywoman wrote:

“I have since looked into all the arguments for and against an Internet tax and I do not support any type of tax on purchases made on the Internet. ... It is too late to do anything this session but next session of the Legislature I will work on overhauling the law that makes most Nevadans that shop online criminals.”

Nice mea culpa.

Fiore has tremendous potential to become the kind of boat-rocking conservative that Republicans in the Assembly have had so few of for many, many years. But she needs to become better informed on issues before she votes on them and desperately needs to refrain from ever selling out her principles again while playing the ol’ you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours game.

Will Fiore’s potential be realized, or will she flame out like last session’s conservative rising star, Sen. Elizabeth Halseth?

Maybe it depends on where she tells me to stick this column.

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass-roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at chuck@citizenoutreach.com.