SACRAMENTO — A Republican assemblyman said Thursday he will resign his committee chairmanship at the end of the 1988 legislative session, saying he had taken too much heat for siding with most Assembly Democrats to block a no-fault automobile insurance bill.
Assemblyman Stan Statham (R-Oak Run) said he will step down as chairman of the Committee on Governmental Efficiency and Consumer Protection on Aug. 31 because newspapers in his district near Redding are accusing him of "having some sort of a deal with Speaker Willie Brown and nothing could be further from the truth."
One of only two lower house GOP committee chairmen, Statham was appointed by the Speaker last January to replace Assemblyman Rusty Areias (D-Los Banos), a member of the so-called dissident "Gang of Five."
The rebels have been challenging Brown's leadership on a series of issues since the beginning of the year. Areias was removed by Brown as punishment for his role in the continuing dispute.
Replacing Areias with Statham was generally viewed as a move by Brown to enlist GOP help in squelching attacks.
"I am hoping that my resignation as committee chairman will prove that I am and always have been a free agent," Statham said.
He was one of three Republicans who joined the Assembly Democratic leadership earlier this month to block floor debate on a GOP-backed measure to institute no-fault auto insurance in California.
The other two were Assemblyman Larry Stirling (R-San Diego), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, and Assemblywoman Sunny Mojonnier (R-Encinitas).
"No-fault will not work as advertised," Statham said. "In the real world, it will not reduce auto insurance premiums." He added that he did not discuss the issue with the Speaker before the Assembly floor vote.
State voters still will be asked to decide on the no-fault auto insurance question under Proposition 104 on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
Statham said he told Brown that he intended to resign while passing the Speaker in the Capitol basement garage on Wednesday morning and said he was told, "That's your decision."
"There is no other reason for my resignation," the GOP lawmaker said. "I just don't need that kind of trouble in my district. Some people think I have some sort of a deal with Willie and I don't."
Brown later said Statham had done an "outstanding job" as committee chairman and "I would reappoint him tomorrow if he so desired."