Nevada legislative counsel checking on seating Assemblyman Brooks


CARSON CITY - "I'm innocent. Marilyn wants to kill me."

Those were the surprising comments made Monday by Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, about 18 hours after his release Sunday from the Las Vegas jail after posting a $100,000 bail. He faces a felony charge of making threats against Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, also D-North Las Vegas.

Brooks, 40, told Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebelius that he was speaking metaphorically about Kirkpatrick, whose complaint against the second-term Assembly member led to his arrest Saturday night by North Las Vegas police.

"Any person who abuses their power and throws somebody in jail wants to kill me," Brooks said.

Kirkpatrick and members of her staff did not return calls for comment.

Brooks emailed another Review-Journal reporter and said only that he was doing well.

Brooks said he will hold a 10 a.m. news conference today at his Legislative Building office in Carson City. He has hired Henderson public relations representative Reggie Burton and Las Vegas attorney Mitchell Posin.

Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, is under police protection.

Legislative police also are prepared to watch Brooks, Kirkpatrick and other legislators closely at an 8:30 a.m. pre-session budget hearing Wednesday. Brooks and Kirkpatrick are members of the budget subcommittee, which will meet in Carson City and have participants by teleconference in Las Vegas.

"We will do everything we can for legislators that may have concerns," said Rick Combs, administrator of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes said she has not received any requests from legislators on how to react to the allegations against Brooks, but she said she is examining legislative rules on whether a member can be blocked from taking office.

"We read the papers, too," Erdoes said.

Legislators will be formally sworn in for the 2013 session at noon on Feb. 4.

Assembly Standing Rule 23 calls for creation of a bipartisan committee to hear allegations of ethics violations or other misdeeds. The rule calls for the member making the allegations to sign a complaint and the speaker to name some review committee members. In this case, Kirkpatrick may fill both roles.

Under the state constitution, the Assembly can decide the qualifications of its members, even determining whether they should be seated after winning an election. They also can expel a member on a two-thirds vote. Legislators cannot be impeached.

Whether Brooks will appear at the Wednesday hearing remains unknown, as does his current address.

Brooks listed 109 Delighted St., North Las Vegas, as his address when he won re-election last November, but on Monday, a man who was clearing out the house said it was vacant and recently was sold to a new owner.

Secretary of state records show Brooks did not file a required financial disclosure statement - which lists his sources of income, debtors and gifts - by the Jan. 15 deadline. He will be fined for the omission. He filed the statements in both 2011 and 2012.

Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow said Monday that it is too early to pass judgment on Brooks, who once worked as a staff member for him.

"No one has any facts; before you cast judgment you need to have facts," said Barlow, who said he has known Brooks about 10 years. "He has an opportunity to be heard; everyone is just on speculation at this point."

Barlow said that he found out about the arrest when news broke on Sunday and that given the paucity of details confirmed so far, the incident is "blown way out of proportion."

Brooks, a father of four, said in his legislative biographical sketch that he loves sports of all kinds, including horseback riding, and that he is a graduate of the University of California, Riverside, with a bachelor's degree in biology. On his Twitter account, he said he spent nine years as a math teacher, science teacher and football coach.

He said he was the chairman of the Victory Baptist Church and a member of the boards of the Las Vegas Urban League, the Hispanic Art Museum and Community Partners. He also said he had developed math and science programs.

Brooks, a Los Angeles native, is the Legislature's only member of both African-American and Hispanic heritage. In his first term, he never joined Assembly floor debates and was not associated with notable legislation.

Over the summer, Brooks announced he would introduce legislation seeking a way to provide medical marijuana to the 3,500 people on the state's medical marijuana registry.

North Las Vegas police jailed Brooks about 6 p.m. Saturday after he was arrested without incident during a traffic stop near Carey Avenue and Mount Hood Street. A law enforcement source said a gun was found in Brooks' car.

Several lawmakers have said they knew Brooks has been upset and felt sidelined by Kirkpatrick, who did not give him the chairmanship of the powerful Assembly Ways and Means Committee. She named him to the committee.

Instead, the leadership job went to Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas.

A lawmaker said Brooks seemed agitated during a recent Interim Finance Committee meeting that Carlton chaired. The legislator said that Brooks kept getting up and moving around during the meeting and that he asked the Transportation Department director whether he had checked whether minority business owners were given a fair shake in the awarding of road contracts.

Lawmakers have said that Brooks has approached other members in recent weeks trying to organize an effort to oust Kirkpatrick as speaker, but the move appeared stalled in part because she enjoys widespread support from her party as well as Republican members.

One lawmaker said Monday that Brooks wanted his support to become speaker himself.

Review-Journal reporters Laura Myers, Ben Spillman and Sean Whaley contributed to this report.

 

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