3 GOP Committee Leaders Lose Jobs for Defying Brown

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Times Staff Writer

Three Assembly Republicans were dismissed from committee chairmanships Tuesday by Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) in retribution for defying him last week on a bill that would have required minors to obtain parental consent or a court order before receiving an abortion.

Losing their posts were Phillip D. Wyman of Tehachapi, who chaired the Constitutional Amendments Committee; Robert C. Frazee of Carlsbad, of the Consumer Protection Committee, and Cathie Wright of Simi Valley, of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

The only other GOP chairman, Assemblyman Larry Stirling (R-San Diego) of the Public Safety Committee, survived because he abstained from voting on the abortion bill issue.


The action against Wyman was expected, but the removal of the other Republicans came as somewhat of a surprise.

Wyman made the motion last Thursday to try to withdraw the Senate-passed abortion bill from the Assembly Judiciary Committee, where it had been scuttled earlier, for a floor vote. An attempt by the full chamber to extract a bill from a committee that has rejected it is considered a breach of Assembly protocol, and no such vote has been successful in more than 25 years. Brown warned Wyman when he made the motion that it would cost him his chairmanship.

The motion received 32 “yes” votes--all from Republicans--nine short of the majority required for passage in the 80-member Assembly. A single negative vote was cast by Brown, who urged his fellow Democrats to abstain.

This let the other Democrats off the political hook in an election year when their vote on the emotion-charged issue could have been been used against them in election campaigning.

Asked why Brown dismissed the three Republicans, Susan Jetton, Brown’s press secretary, said, “Because they voted for the motion to withdraw that bill from committee, thereby expressing no confidence in the committee system.”

The ouster of the three GOP members was at least the second time that Republican defiance has cost them committee chairmanships. In 1982, Brown refused to name any GOP chairmen after Assembly Republicans failed to vote for him for Speaker.


As for his firing, Wyman said, “I knew what the consequences of my act would be, but I would be prepared to do the same thing again a dozen times.” However, he added, he was “disappointed” that Brown fired Frazee and Wright merely because they voted in favor of his motion.

Frazee also said he would vote the same way again. “To me the issue is not even an abortion issue at all,” he said. “It is an issue of parental consent.”

“That’s the way the ball bounces,” Wright said.

Stirling said he understood when he first was appointed chairman of a committee that a condition of a chairmanship was to protect the committee system.