McCoy retaliates

House Speaker Billy McCoy demoted Democrat Rep. Jeff Smith and rebellious Republicans who tried to topple the legislative leader two weeks ago in a conflict that has sharply divided the 122-member chamber.

McCoy on Friday stripped Smith of the committee chairmanship he held the past four years and also denied Republicans any of the House’s 43 leadership spots.

Nine Republicans chaired House committees last year. Now, there are none.

“He flat-out punished us,” said Smith, a Columbus lawmaker allied with the GOP.

Smith made a Republican-backed bid to unseat McCoy but fell two votes short when state representatives elected the House speaker Jan. 8 as the new four-year legislative term began.

Smith and other McCoy-appointed chairmen from the past four-year term should have expected a rank reduction if they tried to throw out the leader, said Rep. Esther Harrison of Columbus.

“They came back and said they didn’t want him as speaker, so what do you expect?” Harrison said. “He supported those who supported him. … That’s the way politics is.”

McCoy appointed Harrison chairman of the House State Library Committee.

Commercial Dispatch
1/20/8