Aides: Rep. Gibbons Won't Get Intelligence Chairmanship

Congressman Jim Gibbons, R-Nevada
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Rep. Jim Gibbons will not be named chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, an aide said Monday, even though the Nevada Republican has more seniority than the committee members who appear in line for the job.

"All I can tell you is that we've heard from credible sources that he will not be appointed to the post," Gibbons' spokeswoman Amy Spanbauer said, declining to name the sources. "No official word has come from the speaker's office."

A spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert did not immediately return a call for comment, and Spanbauer said Gibbons would not discuss the issue himself.

The Intelligence Committee chairmanship opened up this month when President Bush nominated Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., to head the CIA, but Gibbons was angling for the post before that. Aides cited the possibility as one of Gibbons' considerations last year when he decided to forgo a Senate race against Democrat Harry Reid.

Gibbons has served on the Intelligence Committee since he came to Congress in 1997, and is currently chairman of the committee's Subcommittee on Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence. He is third in seniority behind the committee's vice chairman, Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., and Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New York. Bereuter is retiring from Congress this month, and Boehlert serves as chairman of the House Science Committee and wants to keep that seat.

Congressional leaders appear to be focused on two committee members with less seniority than Gibbons, Reps. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan and Ray LaHood of Illinois, Spanbauer said.

LaHood is close to Hastert, who has considerable clout in naming committee leaders, and Hoekstra has been seeking to chair a congressional committee for several years. Lawmakers who raise money for their party are often rewarded with committee assignments, and Hoekstra's political action committee has given $29,500 to GOP candidates so far this election cycle. Gibbons never established a federal PAC.

With the Intelligence chairmanship apparently out of reach, Gibbons could be freed to run for governor in 2006 to succeed Gov. Kenny Guinn, a Republican who is banned by term limits from running again. Polls have shown Gibbons among the top candidates for the job.

Spanbauer declined to comment on that possibility, saying Gibbons was keeping his options open.

The House Republican Steering Committee will select the new Intelligence chairman. The Intelligence Committee has 20 members and oversees government intelligence gathering.