Gov. Rick Perry’s chief of staff, Jay Kimbrough, was fired on Wednesday from his position as deputy chancellor of the Texas A&M University, the governor’s alma mater. The stated reason? Kimbrough wasn’t needed anymore—at least not at the cost of $300,000 a year.
The firing, which came on Kimbrough’s 64th birthday, surprised him. But he appears to have been prepared, in a Boy Scouts sort of way. Here’s the Texas Tribune:
In the process of discussing his termination with Ray Bonilla, the system’s general counsel, and Scott Kelly, the deputy general counsel, Kimbrough, a Marine Corps veteran who nearly died in Vietnam and speaks often of his military history, mentioned—he says in jest—that he always carries a knife.
“I was just joking,” said Kimbrough, who acknowledged that he revealed the pocketknife during the discussion. “I was just saying I was not going to be intimidated.” About an hour later, while he was making phone calls from his office, he said, university police officers arrived and told him he needed to leave.
Kimbrough said it’s not unusual for security to be called in when someone is terminated involuntarily, and that he didn’t think it had to do with the knife. “Sure I displayed it, yes,” he said. “But I do that 20 times a week. I do it when someone needs to cut a watermelon.”
He said he did not threaten anyone: “Absolutely not.”
The A&M system’s spokesman, Jason Cook, told the Tribune that it is standard procedure to have police on stand-by in such a situation. He said no police action was taken and that no police reports have been filed “at this time.”
Later Wednesday night, Bonilla emailed Kimbrough to say the security presence was “done as a routine precaution in employment matters of this nature,” but said Kimbrough should not try to return to the building.
Perry, for his part, maintains close ties with A&M. With Kimbrough? Not so much, it would appear. Anyway you slice it, getting fired on your birthday sucks.