Speaker Straus wants to be perceived as a leader who forgets his agenda in favor of supreme fairness. He needs this image since he is from an industry (gambling) that requires legislation to expand.
In the end, he’d like to see VLTs (the non-”slot machine” word for slot machines) legalized at racetracks without anyone noticing that racetrack industry was Speaker of the House when it happened.
So, we get a speaker who projects sweetness and fairness, sanitized to the point of sterility. He needs us to perceive him as so committed to moderating fairly that he has no time or inclination to push a personal agenda.
Straus loyalist Ralph Sheffield didn’t help his Speaker’s cause at a meeting with a tea party in his district during the summer.
First, Sheffield pledged his undying support to Straus ad nauseum. Among other things he said, “Yes, I’ll pledge Speaker Straus. I did that again… He’s my leader and I trust him as a leader.”
Later, he let slip that Speaker Straus used his position to punish political opponents. Sheffield said, “For him (Speaker Straus) to have to oversee 150 house members, he punished a lot of them. And I mean by punished I mean the fact that, not just a couple of Rs but also some Ds.”
Sheffield appeared to want a take-back as soon as the words “he punished a lot of them” passed his lips. Seemingly making up for outing Straus has a man of vendetta, Sheffield nervously shuffled to a story about how Speaker Straus helped David Simpson with his anti-groping bill even though Simpson voted against Speaker Straus in the speaker race.
Besides making no sense as an example of how Straus punished people, this is false. Straus did not help Simpson’s anti-groping bill. In his speech after the anti-groping bill was killed by parliamentary tricks Simpson explicitly said leadership killed this bill. Straus did punish Simpson.