CARSON CITY — Members of an Assembly Select Committee voted Tuesday to recommend that troubled colleague Steven Brooks be expelled from the Legislature.
If upheld by the full Assembly, the ouster of Brooks would be unprecedented in Nevada’s nearly 150 years as a state.
The committee members reviewing Brooks’ conduct went forward without their colleague in attendance as they began to assess whether to recommend his ouster from the Legislature. The meeting began at 7:30 p.m. and lasted almost four hours.
Brooks’ attorney, Mitchell Posin, said the lawmaker would not be at the Carson City hearing, although Brooks did go to the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas and tried to participate in the hearing.
Rick Combs, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said it was made clear that Brooks would have to attend the hearing in Carson City.
Select Committee Chairman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, also said the discussion of Brooks’ behavior, as contained in a 900-page report that includes interviews with 50 witnesses, would not be made public to protect Brooks’ privacy.
“We all struggled with this decision,” Horne said. “For me, it became apparent that Mr. Brooks currently is not fit to serve.”
The state constitution allows the Legislature to consider the character, alleged misconduct, professional competence or physical or mental health of a member, Horne said.
“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.
The committee, meeting in Carson City District Court offices, then moved to closed session to discuss the report prepared by independent counsel Mark Ferrario, a Las Vegas attorney, hired by the Legislative Counsel Bureau to conduct an assessment of Brooks’ recent behavior and conduct.
The full Assembly will take up the recommendation, possibly as early as today. It would take a two-thirds vote to expel the two-term Assemblyman who now represents District 17 in North Las Vegas.
It would then be up to the Clark County Commission to pick a replacement for Brooks, who has been arrested twice since January and currently faces criminal charges in a domestic violence incident.
The hearing was held in the judicial chambers of the Carson City District Court because of safety concerns. The building has metal detectors and all those attending the hearing had to pass through them.
Brooks’ future was evaluated by seven of his colleagues: Horne, Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno; Richard Carrillo, D-Las Vegas; Wes Duncan, R-Las Vegas; Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas; Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas; and Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson.
The vote to expel Brooks was 6-1, with Neal the lone voice of opposition.
Ferrario said he agreed with Horne’s assessment that the review of the report should take place in private. The ability to meet in closed session was put in the constitution in 1994, and “it’s pretty obvious to me that it was put there to protect the privacy of people who are subject to investigations such as this,” he said.
Only Brooks could have waived the confidentiality requirement.
Brooks was barred from the Legislative Building on Feb. 11 after two recent arrests, including one on Jan. 19 after he is alleged to have threatened Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, over his committee assignments. According to police, he had a gun in his car and dozens of rounds of ammunition.
Days after posting bail, he was detained and 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.
He now faces charges, including a felony, in the domestic violence incident.
Contact reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.