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National News

March 29, 2013

Ex-Nev. assemblyman arrested hours after expulsion

LAS VEGAS — Former Nevada Assemblyman Steven Brooks has been arrested in California on charges including resisting arrest and throwing objects, just hours after he became the first lawmaker ever expelled from the Nevada Legislature.

Jail records show Barstow police arrested Brooks, 41, at about 7 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 15 at Stoddard Wells.

"We had started to discuss possible next steps," Mitchell Posin, Brooks' attorney, told The Associated Press Friday. "Next thing I know, I heard about this."

Posin said he had no details about the arrest, or about why Brooks was on the interstate in Barstow.

Records show the North Las Vegas Democrat was taken to a San Bernardino County jail in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on $100,000 bail.

The Nevada Assembly voted Thursday morning to oust Brooks, after Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, called him "potentially dangerous" and said lawmakers didn't feel safe with him in the building.

"This really saddens me," Horne said Friday, after learning of the arrest. "I hope they get Steven the help he clearly needs before he or someone else is hurt or worse."

This is the third time Brooks has been arrested since January.

He's accused of making threats toward his colleagues, including Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick. Police said Brooks had a gun and ammunition in his car. No charges have been filed.

He was arrested again Feb. 10 at his estranged wife's home in Las Vegas after police say he threw punches and grabbed for the gun of an officer who responded to a domestic dispute. He faces a court hearing in May in Las Vegas on one felony and three lesser charges.

Brooks also was denied the purchase of a gun in Sparks last month after he was banished from the chambers. Posin said there's been a misunderstanding and Brooks poses no real threat to anyone.

Horne said Brooks' unpredictable behavior — which included missing meetings, calling news 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 led to hours of closed meetings and a Select Committee hearing Tuesday night in which a panel voted 6-1 to recommend to expel Brooks.

The committee said a 900-page investigative report that members reviewed was not made public because of the private nature of the findings.

Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, was the lone dissenter on the committee, saying she preferred a less harsh penalty like suspension.

Neal choked on emotion before the Assembly Thursday, often pausing to gain composure during her remarks.

"I understand that expulsion is the highest form of discipline," Neal said. "I also understand that the action is the equivalent of political death on all levels, whether it be suspension or expulsion."

But, she added, "I believe in the human form in all its frailties and all of its faults.

"I also believe in the power of human recovery."

After the somber 32-minute floor session, Neal was consoled by Horne, who chaired the Select Committee that recommended Brooks' ouster.

"We did not feel safe having Assemblyman Brooks in this building," Horne said. "We wanted to protect people in this building and go about our business."

Reached immediately after the vote, Brooks was aghast.

"How dare they?" Brooks told the AP in a brief telephone interview. "I've been convicted of nothing."

Brooks alleged during the interview that unspecified opponents have tried to kill him. He didn't take questions.

Brooks won re-election in November by a 2-1 margin over an unknown challenger.

It was the first time the Legislature initiated the expulsion of a member since a lawmaker was accused of libeling other members in 1867. However, that case never came to a formal vote.

Associated Press writer Michelle Rindels contributed to this report.

 

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