Assemblyman Brooks investigation to cost state about $45,000

CARSON CITY — The work of the independent counsel hired by the Assembly to investigate whether troubled lawmaker Steven Brooks should be removed from office will cost an estimated $45,000, documents released Thursday show.

Details of the contract with Las Vegas attorney Mark Ferrario were released just as Assembly Majority Leader William Horne announced that the Select Committee considering Brooks’ future in the Legislature will meet late next week to make a recommendation to the full Assembly.

Horne, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the panel, said he would like the Assembly to take up the issue the day after the committee decision, meaning Brooks’ future could be finalized by the end of next week. It would take a two-thirds vote to oust Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, from his District 17 seat.

Ousting him would be unprecedented in Nevada.

The contract between the Legislative Counsel Bureau and Ferrario was released by bureau Director Rick Combs. Ferrario said in the document that attorneys fees, costs and expenses for the review should not exceed the $45,000 figure. Combs said that the rate is capped and the Legislative Counsel Bureau is not being charged an hourly rate.

Other fees and expenses could be incurred as part of the probe, the contract said. The $45,000 is about five times what a lawmaker earns in pay each session. Lawmakers are paid about $150 a day for the first 60 days of each session.

A separate contract was released detailing the agreement with The Advantage Group, a Reno-based investigative and consulting firm, which will be paid $75 an hour plus costs for its services in the Brooks review. The company is run by Duane Isenberg, who is retired from the Reno Police Department.

Brooks is on paid leave and banned from the Legislative Building.

Horne said a date for the Select Committee meeting has not been set while a location for the meeting is identified. The hearing may be held in the Carson City District Court offices.

“They are close enough where we are comfortable in making plans on having a hearing late next week,” he said. “We’re trying to have it at the Carson courthouse for security concerns. It will be after hours.”

Horne said the report from the independent counsel should be completed by the end of this week or early next week.

It is possible that a part of the Select Committee meeting will be closed to the public because of the sensitive nature of some documents being requested by the committee, he said.

Brooks is challenging in the state Supreme Court the decision to place him on paid leave. No date for a hearing has yet been set.

He recently was charged in a Feb. 10 domestic violence incident involving his wife. Las Vegas police arrested Brooks after responding to the couple’s home on Turtle River Avenue just after midnight. He is charged with resisting a public officer with use of a firearm, assault on an officer, battery domestic violence and obstructing a police officer.

Resisting an officer is a felony. Assault on an officer is a gross misdemeanor. The other two charges are misdemeanors.

Brooks is being investigated by the state attorney general’s office for a Jan. 18 arrest after allegations he threatened Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas. Brooks was reportedly upset about his committee assignments.

A veterans affairs advocate on Thursday said he gave a ballistic vest to Brooks but declined to give infrared night vision goggles. Internet talk show host Steve Sanson said Brooks didn’t tell him what he wanted to do with the vest.