Assemblyman Steven Brooks was arrested Saturday night on a charge of threatening Nevada Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson said Sunday he informed Kirkpatrick of Brooks’ threat against her. Atkinson said Brooks had been telling people Kirkpatrick’s "first day as speaker would be her last."
North Las Vegas police said Brooks, 40, was booked about 6 p.m. at the Las Vegas City Jail on a felony charge of intimidating a public officer by threat of physical violence. Jail records show Brooks was in custody Sunday evening.
Brooks is a Democrat serving Nevada Assembly District 17 in northern Clark County.
Police said they responded to a home in North Las Vegas at about 3:45 p.m. Saturday in response to reported threats to an elected official, though authorities would not say who Brooks reportedly threatened.
A Nevada legislator who requested anonymity said Kirkpatrick was shaken but doing fine. Kirkpatrick is a North Las Vegas Democrat who was recently elected speaker.
Brooks 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.
Lawmakers were shocked by the allegation against Brooks, but said they knew he has been upset and felt sidelined by Kirkpatrick, who did not give him the chairmanship of the powerful Assembly Ways and Means Committee, although she did name him to the committee.
Instead, the chair job went to Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton. One lawmaker said Brooks seemed agitated during a recent Interim Finance Committee meeting that Carlton chaired.
"He kept getting up and down and walking in and out of the meeting," said the lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He was acting a little strangely."
About three weeks ago, Brooks began approaching other Assembly members, soliciting help in ousting Kirkpatrick as leader of the lower house, the lawmaker said. He didn’t get much support and "seemed to accept" that she would remain as leader, though Brooks remained troubled by his situation, the lawmaker said.
"He said, ‘She’s out to get me,’ " the lawmaker said.
Kirkpatrick knew of Brooks’ efforts to remove her, the lawmaker said.
Kirkpatrick could not be reached for comment Sunday but other legislative leaders said they wanted to hear from Brooks before rushing to judgement.
Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said he knows Brooks from their membership in the Hispanic caucus.
"It’s a little surprising," Denis said of the arrest.
Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said Sunday that law enforcement is providing security both for himself and Kirkpatrick.
"Ms. Kirkpatrick is being watched until it is deemed not necessary," he said. "Law enforcement has been dispatched to my home as well. Obviously something has risen to a level where it is better to be safe than sorry."
Horne said he didn’t witness any threats by Brooks.
"We’ve got legislative police doing their job and (North) Las Vegas police doing their investigation," he said. "We’ll wait to see what happens. We wish Mr. Brooks well and we hope everyone remains safe. It is a serious issue."
The arrest comes just 16 days before the Legislature opens its 77th session on Feb. 4, a session that leaders of both parties, including Kirkpatrick, had hoped would be harmonious and without partisan bickering.
In the past, the battles were between Republicans and Democrats, not between members of the same party. An arrest of a Nevada legislator for threatening another has not occurred for at least 30 years, and may never have happened before .
Brooks is beginning his second term as an assemblyman. His first term, representing District 19 prior to reapportionment, was largely uneventful. Assigned to the Transportation, Judiciary and Health and Human Services committees, he seldom said anything in floor debates. Kirkpatrick, however, has gained a lot of popularity, including with Republicans, who often praised her for her fairness.
According to his biography on Votesmart.org, Brooks is a former mathematics teacher. At the time of his first election in 2010, he listed his occupation as "self-employed." He is now a city of Las Vegas management analyst, where he was paid just under $33,000 in 2011, according to a city employee listing. Brooks’ position is appointed, meaning he is not in the Las Vegas City Employees Association and is employed at will.
In a statement, city spokesman David Riggleman said, "Yes, we are aware of Steve Brooks’ arrest. As is the city’s standard practice, we will treat this situation as a personnel matter, meaning the facts surrounding it will be thoroughly reviewed. Following that review, the city will take the appropriate action."
If released from custody this week, Brooks could see Kirkpatrick as soon as Wednesday. Both are members of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, which has a scheduled pre-session budget subcommittee hearing at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The meeting will be in Carson City, but members may also attend by teleconference at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas.
Review-Journal Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel and reporters Mike Blasky and Benjamin Spilman contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638. Contact reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@review journal.com or 775-687-3900. Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal .com or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter.Steven Brooks arrest report