Published March 28, 2013
A Nevada Democratic Assemblyman whose erratic behavior dominated headlines for weeks will go down in history as the first lawmaker ever expelled from the state Legislature by his peers.
The Nevada Assembly voted Thursday to oust Assemblyman Steven Brooks in somber, emotional hearing in which several members were heard crying and Assembly Majority Leader William Horne said people didn't feel safe with him in the legislative building.
"How dare they?" Brooks told The Associated Press in a brief telephone interview immediately after the voice vote. "I've been convicted of nothing."
Brooks alleged that unspecified opponents have tried to kill him. He didn't take questions.
"Yes, tried to kill me," he said. "I'm an open book. They won't let me testify at the Grant Sawyer Building, and they sent 100 police officers to arrest me."
"Let me ask you, how can they do that?" Brooks added before hanging up.
Brooks lawyer, Mitchell Posin, said he was "disappointed" and surprised, "especially because I was recently told it wasn't going to be heard today."
Posin said he would discuss with Brooks their next step.
The lawyer added that he didn't know what Brooks' "100 police officers" comment meant.
The Nevada Democrat has been arrested twice since January and is accused of making threats toward his colleagues, including Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
Brooks also was denied the purchase of a gun in Sparks last month after he was banished from the chambers. His lawyer, Mitchell Posin, says there's been a misunderstanding and Brooks doesn't pose any real threat to anyone.
Brooks, 41, won re-election in November by a 2-to-1 margin over an unknown challenger. He first was arrested Jan. 19 in a car with a gun and dozens of rounds of ammunition after allegedly voicing a threat against Kirkpatrick, a fellow North Las Vegas Democrat. The state attorney general's office is handling that case, and no formal charges have yet been filed.
Horne said Brooks' unpredictable behavior, which included missing meetings, calling press conferences he never showed up for, and posing shirtless for a Las Vegas newspaper, had made the session look "more like a circus and daytime drama than a serious legislative body."
It's the first time the Legislature initiated the expulsion of a member since a lawmaker was accused of libeling other members in 1867, although that case never came to a formal vote. Back then, Assemblyman A.H. Lissak of Storey County had published a letter referring to the Assembly speaker's "sore-eyed, red-haired, baboon-looking face" in a political feud that prompted a ban on Territorial Enterprise reporters from the chambers.
Thursday's vote came after a bipartisan select committee met earlier this week to review a 900-page independent investigation into Brooks' conduct. That committee voted 6-1 to recommend expulsion, with the lone dissenting vote coming from Assemblywoman Dina Neal.
Neal choked up when she told the Assembly floor that she believed in degrees of discipline, and favored suspending Brooks rather than taking the extreme step of expulsion, which she called "nothing short of political death."
"I believe in the human form in all its frailties and all of its faults," Neal said in the 32-minute hearing. "I also believe in the power of human recovery."