NV Governor's Press Secretary Dismissed

By: By MARTIN GRIFFITH AP Writer
By: By MARTIN GRIFFITH AP Writer

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Gov. Jim Gibbons has abruptly dismissed his press secretary and already selected a replacement for the $100,000-plus-a-year post.

Ben Kieckhefer said he was told Friday that Gibbons wanted to make a change, but that he was not at liberty to discuss details or the name of his successor.

His final day on the job has not been determined, but it could come as early as next week, he said.

"It's a move that the governor wanted to make and his staff serves at his pleasure ... Whatever his reasons are it doesn't really matter," Kieckhefer said Saturday.

"It's a weird one for me; I wasn't expecting it. But I have nothing to complain about. I had a unique opportunity few people receive. I learned a lot," he added.

Top Gibbons aides Josh Hicks and Mendy Elliott could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Kieckhefer, who assumed the post in March, declined to discuss the reasons cited for the move.

The 31-year-old former Reno Gazette-Journal and Associated Press reporter helped guide the first-term Republican governor through various crises.

While he was recently cleared in an FBI corruption investigation, Gibbons has seen his approval ratings drop following a budget crunch, a messy divorce that is still pending and lawsuits involving his private and public activities.

Gibbons still faces a lawsuit from a woman claiming he threatened to rape her. He's also being sued by a government staffer who claimed she was forced from her job because he thought she was leaking information about his personal use of a state cell phone.

Kieckhefer, who also once worked for a Reno advertising and public relations firm, said he was unsure about his future plans.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-11-08-08 1857EST


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