CARSON CITY — A decision on the future of troubled state lawmaker Steven Brooks was delayed Wednesday after both Republicans and Democrats raised questions about the process that led a special committee to recommend his expulsion.
The two groups caucused privately twice on Wednesday before a decision was made by the Assembly Democratic leadership to take up the Brooks matter today . The North Las Vegas Democrat’s troubles began Jan. 19 when he was arrested after being accused of threatening Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick over his committee assignments.
Emerging from a two-hour caucus meeting, Kirkpatrick and Assembly Majority Leader William Horne said their members wanted more time to consider the situation before voting.
But there is no guarantee the vote will happen today .
“We may or may not at this point,” Kirkpatrick said. “We’re not there yet.”
Horne said members “requested the time to think about it and where they stand on this.”
The members have not been given any confidential information that was reviewed by the special committee, he said.
“I want to stress that this is not a caucus issue,” said Horne, adding that lawmakers will have to rely on their own knowledge, experience and consciences in making a decision.
“And so we’re giving them that time to do that and find their comfort level, wherever that is, and for whatever vote they are going to make,” he said.
The decision to postpone the vote on Wednesday became clear when Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, a member of the special committee, called a reporter at 7 p.m. and said he was in Reno for an event. Hickey said he left Carson City after being told there would be no floor session to vote on Brooks.
It will take a two-thirds vote to remove Brooks from the Assembly.
Horne, who served as chairman of the Assembly Select Committee, which voted 6-1 late Tuesday to recommend expulsion for Brooks, said his fellow Democrats had a lot of questions in the caucus sessions about the committee’s action.
“It’s an enormous leap sometimes to ask your colleagues to trust you on matters, but as I stated last night, the members on that committee were chosen for a reason — because of how their colleagues view them,” Horne said.
Assembly Republicans also caucused on the Brooks recommendation for expulsion.
Horne, with Hickey; Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson; Richard Carrillo, D-Las Vegas; Wes Duncan, R-Las Vegas; and Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas; voted to recommend expulsion Tuesday after a closed-door hearing that lasted several hours.
The holdout on the seven-member committee, Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, said the investigative report on Brooks suggested to her that a suspension, not an expulsion, was warranted.
There has been some fallout for Horne over the decision of the Select Committee to review a voluminous report on Brooks, prepared by an independent counsel, in closed session without the public present.
The report has also been kept confidential. Horne said the reason was to protect Brooks’ privacy and avoid inflicting further harm on the lawmaker.
Horne said when the Select Committee hearing began that the state constitution allows the Legislature to meet in private to consider the character, misconduct allegations, professional competence or physical or mental health of a member.
“The information that was obtained through the investigation and included in the report are of a private nature, and we do not feel it is appropriate to make that information public,” he said. “While we always favor open meetings, there is a point at which we must also protect the privacy of others.”
Only Brooks could have waived the confidentiality requirement. But he failed to attend the hearing in Carson City, instead showing up at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas though the meeting was not being teleconferenced to that location.
Brooks was banished from the Legislative Building by Horne on Feb. 11 because of his behavior.
A few days after his Jan. 19 arrest and the allegations of threatening Kirkpatrick, Brooks was hospitalized for a mental evaluation after a disturbance at his grandmother’s house involving a sword.
On Feb. 10, he was arrested on suspicion of physically attacking his estranged wife in Las Vegas, then grabbing for an officer’s gun as he was taken into custody.
Brooks attended the opening day of the Legislature on Feb. 4 and attended a few committee meetings and floor sessions before abruptly leaving on Feb. 7. He said his departure was to seek medical treatment. He has not returned to the Legislative Building since then.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.