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February 21, 2013

Assemblywoman Olsen's office gets downsized

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen was ordered to move immediately into a much smaller office in the wake of a failed effort within the Assembly Republican Caucus to oust its leader, Connie Conway.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, was ordered to move immediately into a much smaller office Thursday after a failed effort within the Assembly Republican Caucus to oust its leader, Connie Conway.

The move was widely regarded as punishment for Olsen, who had been touted by some Assembly Republicans as a potential successor to Conway.

The caucus decided nearly unanimously Thursday to retain Conway, with only one person voting "no," members said.

"I don't know the exact circumstances of the reason for the move, but I do know that Assembly member Olsen was not the vote to vacate the chair," said Kim Nickols, Olsen's spokeswoman.

Nickols declined substantive comment about the caucus leadership turmoil, saying only, "I know that the only thing that's important to her is that the party unifies, refines its message and implements winning strategies."

Olsen was ordered into an office that is nearly 25 percent smaller than the one she has now — 584 square feet vs. 763 square feet. She had occupied a smaller office in 2011 and 2012 but was moved into larger digs this year.

Office assignments are controlled by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, but historically the leader of the lower house has consulted with the chief of the minority party regarding the latter's offices and committee assignments. For dec- ades, forced office changes have been a common form of punishment by legislative leaders.

Pérez's spokeswoman could not be reached immediately for comment about Olsen's office relocation. Conway's spokeswoman, Sabrina Lockhart, said only that Pérez assigns offices.

Assembly administrator Jon Waldie conveyed the message to Olsen that she must move into smaller digs. He declined to discuss possible reasons for the move, saying only that his job is to assist in the relocation. The change will be made today, he said.

Olsen's relocation has her switching offices with Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside.

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