Decision on Brooks could come today; fate remains unclear
March 28, 2013
Assembly Democrats met behind closed doors Wednesday night as leadership briefed them on the reasons a select committee recommended expelling North Las Vegas Democrat Steven Brooks.
Majority Leader William Horne and Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick emerged from the 90-minute caucus, saying members asked to have a night to digest the information and think about how they will vote.
Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, was noncommittal on whether they would vote on Brooks today.
"As you can imagine, there were a lot of questions," said Horne, D-Las Vegas. "They requested time to think about it and where they stand on this."
Asked what information leadership was able to give the Democratic caucus, Horne said "they were able to sit down with their colleagues and ask questions." But he said the caucus as a whole wasn't given the same confidential information as the seven members of the select committee that recommended expulsion Tuesday night.
Republicans headed by Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, didn't caucus. They went home more than an hour earlier.
Under the Nevada Constitution, the Assembly has sole power to expel Brooks from his seat. That would require a two-thirds vote of the 42 members — at least 28 votes.
The select committee of seven recommended Tuesday that Brooks be expelled for his and the Legislature's good. Several members of that panel, including Horne, the chairman, expressed hope that the troubled Assemblyman would get the mental help he needs.
The lone dissent came from North Las Vegas Democrat Dina Neal, who said she was not convinced Brooks should go.
No one would discuss the details of what was in special counsel Mark Ferrario's voluminous report on Brooks, as well as his conduct, arrests and psychological condition.
That prompted Hickey to argue Tuesday night that while some parts of the evidence, such as his medical records, are confidential by federal law, other parts are at least generally known and should be made public.
At Ferrario's recommendation, the committee decided against letting any of the information out and went so far as to collect the 300-page binders from committee members after a four-hour hearing that concluded shortly before midnight.
Brooks' issues began before the opening of the 2013 Legislature when he allegedly threatened Kirkpatrick's life. That was followed by several alleged incidents including one involving a sword outside a relative's Southern Nevada home and charges of him committing domestic battery against his estranged wife. That incident reportedly involved a scuffle with police in which he allegedly tried to take the arresting officer's gun. He faces resisting arrest and domestic violence charges in that case.
Brooks was at one point ordered held for 72 hours for psychological evaluation. More recently, he tried to buy a hunting rifle from a sporting-goods store in Sparks but was denied.
He had been ordered barred from the Legislative Building and all legislative functions pending resolution of the case. He didn't attend Tuesday's select committee hearing.