SALT LAKE CITY — The saga surrounding Carl Wimmer's announcement that he was the new political director of the Nevada GOP has come to a close with his return home just days later.
At a news conference at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics Wednesday, Wimmer said there wasn't a job waiting for him after all, thanks to a "non-functional" state party organization.
Wimmer said at the start of the week he was leaving Utah "to take the lead in Nevada" in bringing together the factions that have divided the Republican Party in a key battleground state in November's presidential race.
The former state lawmaker and congressional candidate said he was driving on I-15 near Cedar City when he got a call from a Nevada reporter who'd been told the party hadn't hired him. He said he didn't turn around because others assured him the situation could be resolved.
What he said he found in Las Vegas, however, were party officials who were "not just dysfunctional, they're non-functional." After a day of meetings Tuesday with a number of Nevada Republicans, Wimmer said it was time to head back to Utah.
Wimmer said he plans to resume working for his security consulting firm, and said he has "no ill will or hard feelings" about his experience.
That didn't stop him from accusing Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald of not telling the truth about being aware of the hiring. McDonald told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he had never spoken to Wimmer and never agreed to hire him.
"That's absolutely, unequivocally false and not true. He absolutely knew who I was. There was an exchange of emails he was carbon-copied on," Wimmer said.
McDonald, Wimmer said, likely was getting pushback from others in the party about how he filled the political director spot and "wanted to put the genie back in the bottle and say, OK, this deal is over."
Wimmer acknowledged he never actually talked to McDonald or anyone else associated with the party other than two people he said he couldn't name, and Jesse Law, whom he called the Nevada GOP's "acting political director."
It turns out, though, that Law doesn't work for the party.
"He has no title with the party. He's not on staff," said Nola Bonecutter, controller for the Nevada Republican Party.
Law, described as an aide to McDonald, apparently had expected to be hired as executive director as supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul swept into power at the Nevada GOP.
Neither McDonald nor Law have returned calls during the past two days seeking clarification about the controversy. McDonald reportedly has been with his ailing father the past few days.
Wimmer said he understood Law was making decisions for the party and had been negotiating details of the job with him since May 23, including where Wimmer would live while working in Las Vegas.
On May 31, Wimmer said he accepted the position of political director, with an emphasis on fundraising for the party. His own salary was guaranteed for only two months, Wimmer said, with future paychecks coming from the money he raised.
Reports that his salary was being paid by Chuck Warren, a Las Vegas-based lobbyist who recommended Wimmer for the job, were incorrect, Wimmer said.
Thusday Wimmer provided copies of what he said were emails between himself and Law that mentioned "the chairman" and dealt with housing, an assignment to track down funds reportedly raised by a consultant and a fundraising update.
Wimmer said he had been told party officials were supportive of his hiring. Once he started meeting them, he said he realized that wasn't the case.
"That is the problem right now with the Nevada Republican Party. They're not communicating," Wimmer said.
He said he does not expect the experience to hurt his reputation, despite a series of political setbacks. Wimmer, who lost a bid to be the GOP nominee for Utah's new 4th Congressional District seat to Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, said he has not ruled out running for office again.
"I don't believe that my political capital has been damaged by this because the fact is, I entered into a very tough situation, one that nobody could have foreseen, one that nobody could have prepared for," he said.
University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said Wimmer wasn't likely to see much political fallout from his brief association with the Nevada GOP.
"The people who know and support Carl Wimmer are not going to change their minds," Burbank said. "It's a footnote at best, I think."
Wimmer said he had looked forward to helping heal the rift between Nevada supporters of Paul and the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Wimmer said he likes both candidates, but now backs Romney.
"I like many of the things that Ron Paul stands for," Wimmer said. "And at one point, early on in the election, I'd made it clear that I would, if the election was today, I would have voted for him."
The divide within the party apparently is so bad in Nevada that Romney supporters and the national Republican Party are diverting resources to a new "shadow party" in the Silver State, called Team Nevada.
Wimmer's experience is unlikely to spark any attempt to find a solution to the Nevada Republican Party's problems, said University of Nevada, Las Vegas political science professor David Damore.
"It reinforces they're not ready for prime time," Damore said. "It just reminds you a lot of a high school student council."
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