Legislature 2013:

Brooks’ public behavior grows more erratic


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Assemblyman Steven Brooks sits alone after a floor session Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 during the 2013 legislative session in Carson City. Brooks announced during the session that he would take a leave of absence to address health issues.

Fri, Feb 8, 2013 (2 a.m.)

The first two days of the legislative session, embattled Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, publicly conducted himself in a manner reasonably close to that of any other legislator.

A suit and tie replaced the hoodie and sunglasses he wore on his first arrival in Carson City after his arrest on allegations he threatened Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick.

He spoke softly but coherently when giving a brief floor statement along with the rest of his colleagues on opening day.

He politely deflected reporters’ questions, saying very little about his arrest or his impending expulsion hearings.

If it weren’t for the media and legislative police tracking his every move, one might not notice any difference between him and his colleagues at all.

That started to change Thursday, 12 hours after his fellow Democrats announced they had banished him from their caucus. Indeed, the erratic behavior that helped lead to his ouster from the caucus began to emerge.

“I’m the man everybody seems to want to talk to, so I guess I better start talking,” he called out to a Sun reporter who approached him on the Assembly Floor on Thursday. “What’s your question?”

“What do you think about your colleagues' decision to kick you out of the caucus?” the reporter asked.

“It’s the dumbest thing they’ve ever done!” he said.

Then he reversed himself.

“No, no. Don’t say that. Don’t say that. I love them still. I’m the only true Democrat standing.”

Asked if he would caucus with Republicans instead, Brooks responded: “Why would I do that? I just like to fight for my Second Amendment rights. Other than that, I stand alone. Only God stands with me.”

The Democrats’ decision to boot Brooks from their caucus means he won’t be a part of private discussions over party strategy, floor votes and bill introductions. If he doesn’t take a leave of absence, he still will be allowed to take his seat on the floor and on his committees.

“The caucus allows us to have private conversations on work we want to do. We are able to speak freely in a comfortable environment,” Assembly Majority Leader William Horne said. “We believe expelling Mr. Brooks is beneficial for both us and Mr. Brooks.”

Horne added that Brooks is “not an appropriate member for our caucus.”

The tension surrounding Brooks is growing. The Assembly sergeant-at-arms aggressively worked to keep reporters away from Brooks on Thursday, saying he needed his privacy.

At one point, Brooks decided he would take a select few reporters to his office for an impromptu press conference, allowing a Sun reporter, an AP reporter and a Review-Journal columnist to tail him upstairs.

When he got to his office, he closed the door and his assistant announced he would not be commenting.

A 3 p.m. press conference he promised never occurred.

Brooks displayed similar indecision over whether to take a leave of absence — dissembling that helped lead to the caucus decision to oust him.

At several points over the past few days, Brooks promised to sign papers for the leave. When the papers arrived, he refused to sign.

He continued showing up to work, then announced on the Assembly Floor on Thursday he would take a three-week leave of absence. Yet he still hasn't signed the papers.

No one is sure if he really means it this time.

"I'm not surprised by anything at this point," Horne said.

Amid the back-and-forth, Assembly leaders pressed ahead with the formation of a select committee to consider whether Brooks is fit to serve in the Legislature.

The seven-person committee of four Democrats and three Republicans will convene in the next couple of weeks. Horne said the criteria they will use to determine his fitness for duty is still being developed but will include “ethical questions” and attendance at meetings.

A special counsel will be appointed to present evidence to the committee, which will hold public meetings. Brooks will be allowed to testify and will be given due process, Horne said.

The committee will make a recommendation to the full Assembly, which will vote on whether to expel him. If he is expelled, the Clark County Commission will appoint a replacement.

Horne said the committee will not focus on the events that led to Brooks' arrest on Jan. 19. He was arrested on suspicion of threatening Kirkpatrick and was found with a gun and 40 rounds of ammunition in his car.

A week later, Brooks was detained by police for a psychiatric evaluation and spent five days in a Las Vegas hospital.

Horne said the arrest “brought to light a whole bunch of things,” prior behavior that will be the focus of the committee’s investigation. He did not provide additional details.

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