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Brooks barred from Legislative Building; placed on leave with pay

CARSON CITY — Troubled Assemblyman Steven Brooks has been put on leave with pay and banned from the Legislative Building following the adoption Monday of rules by an Assembly committee reviewing his conduct over the past several weeks.

Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, who is also chairman of the Select Committee evaluating Brooks’ conduct, said the review of the sophomore lawmaker will commence within the next two weeks.

Horne said Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, will be receiving a letter outlining these conditions within “the day if not sooner.”

Brooks could be expelled from the Legislature, something that has never happened in Nevada before. It would take a two-thirds vote to remove him from office should he be found unfit to serve.

The Monday meeting of the Select Committee was brief and Brooks was not present, either in Carson City or Las Vegas. The rules, which allow Brooks to be barred from entering the building, were adopted unanimously by the bipartisan, seven-member committee. It was the first meeting of the panel after being established Thursday by Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, whom Brooks is alleged to have threatened last month.

Horne said the reason for the ban on Brooks is twofold — the safety of lawmakers, the public and others working in the Legislature, and also because he cannot currently fulfill his duties as the assemblyman from District 17.

“It’s more than a distraction here, of us being able to conduct our business,” he said. “A lot of resources have been going into monitoring Mr. Brooks when he is in the Legislative Building and it’s taking away from what we’re supposed to be doing here, and that is legislating.”

Brooks will be on leave and banned from the building until an investigation is completed and brought to the committee by an independent counsel, Horne said. That counsel has not yet been hired.

“At that time Mr. Brooks will receive notice that he can come and participate in that as well,” he said.

BROOKS ARRESTED AGAIN SUNDAY

Brooks’ personal troubles escalated Sunday after he threw a punch at officers and threatened his wife while being arrested on a domestic violence charge, a Las Vegas police report said.

According to the report, Brooks pulled his wife’s hair and threatened her during an encounter at the couple’s home on Turtle River Avenue early Sunday morning. He went to the home for his television and “other stuff,” the report said.

During the encounter, Brooks accused his wife of having multiple affairs. He grabbed her hair near her ears and yelled at her. Brooks then tried to kiss her and asked her to go upstairs and have sex with him, the report said.

Ada Brooks ran from the home to a neighbor’s house shortly after midnight and called police. She received a cut or bump to her bottom lip during the incident, the report said.

Police arrested Brooks after arriving at the home at 12:18 a.m. Brooks was standing in the driveway.

When Brooks refused to keep his hands out of his pockets, an officer attempted to restrain him, the report said. Brooks yelled, “No!” and resisted, throwing a punch that missed by “inches.” He then threw another punch, which also missed.

At one point, Brooks “mounted” one officer and yelled, “I’ve got your gun,” the report said. It’s unclear whether Brooks ever put his hands on the officer’s weapon.

When a police supervisor arrived, Brooks was handcuffed and yelling, “Do you know who the (expletive) I am? I’m an Assemblyman!” the report says.

Police said Brooks then yelled to his wife.

“Baby, (expletive) these assholes! Don’t let them in the house! It was a misunderstanding!” Brooks said, according to the report. “I’ll get you for this!”

Brooks was booked on misdemeanor charges of domestic battery and obstructing an officer.

The Clark County district attorney’s office has not filed charges and has asked police for more information beyond the patrol officer’s handwritten report.

Brooks’ lawyer Mitchell Posin said he was anticipating the district attorney’s office would file charges. Brooks had a bail hearing scheduled for Monday, but that was canceled after he bailed out of jail Sunday night.

“All I can say is we’re going to be fighting these charges as we have fought the others,” Posin said.

Brooks was also arrested on Jan. 19 after Las Vegas police were notified by Kirkpatrick that she was concerned for her safety.

Brooks attended the opening day of the session and was sworn into office for a second term, but he left Friday saying he would be taking three weeks off for medical treatment.

While Brooks’ two arrests will not be a focus of the committee, “the conduct and behavior that Mr. Brooks did to be arrested will be of consideration to the committee, but his criminal charges themselves are not why we are convening,” Horne said.

“We’re not a court of law,” he said.

COMMITTEE TO REVIEW EXPULSION

Kirkpatrick said Sunday that Brooks’ arrests have been a distraction for the Legislature, but have not stopped lawmakers from doing business.

“As far as Mr. Brooks, we have to move on,” she said. “I’m a little bit shocked (by the latest arrest).”

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, said Monday that if Brooks resigns it would allow the Legislature work on pressing public policy issues.

But it is up to Brooks to make that decision, he said.

Hickey, a member of the Select Committee, also said it is important for the Assembly to move on to other matters.

“I look forward to hearing whatever will be presented,” he said. “However, I think it’s time that we move on. It would appear that Mr. Brooks is going to have one impossible time to be able to serve this session.”

Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, D-Las Vegas, also on the Select Committee, said he and Brooks served on the same committees in 2011 and he considers him a friend, though not a close one.

Whether the arrests resulting from Brooks’ bizarre actions in recent weeks indicate mental problems that should disqualify Brooks from serving, Carrillo said, “I am not qualified in mental health matters. I cannot give any opinions.”

Brooks easily won his second Assembly term by securing nearly 69 percent of the vote against Republican Len Marciano.

Contact Review Journal Carson City Bureau writer Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

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