CARSON CITY — The Nevada Assembly on Thursday formed a special committee to investigate troubled Assemblyman Steven Brooks, who moments later announced on the chamber floor his intent to take a three-week leave.
The developments came a day after Brooks, 40, was ousted from the Assembly Democratic caucus and caps weeks of bizarre events that began last month with his arrest for allegedly threatening Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a fellow North Las Vegas Democrat.
Brooks, D-North La Vegas, was temporarily hospitalized a week later for a psychiatric evaluation.
He was sworn in Monday with other legislators after making a verbal agreement with legislative leaders to take an unspecified medical leave. But Brooks backed out of the deal, prompting the unprecedented creation of the seven-member special committee to investigate his behavior.
Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, will chair the bipartisan panel. Other Democrats are Richard Carrillo and Jason Frierson, both of Las Vegas, and Dina Neal, of North Las Vegas. Republicans on the committee are GOP Minority Leader Pat Hickey, of Reno; Wesley Duncan, of Las Vegas; and Lynn Stewart, of Henderson.
Horne told reporters one of the committee’s first orders of business “will be to address whether or not Mr. Brooks is fit to serve in office.”
Brooks was in the Assembly when the committee was announced. Minutes later, he thanked colleagues and said he would be taking leave. It wasn’t immediately known, however, whether he signed a document to that effect, something leadership pressed for earlier in the week.
Brooks briefly attended a Ways and Means Committee meeting Thursday morning. He was seen later at a nearby coffee shop. He then asked a news photographer to take his picture in front of the Legislature Building.
Throughout the morning he offered to give interviews with reporters and then abruptly cancelled.
Since the Legislature began Monday, Brooks has been escorted throughout the building by legislative police, who have not allowed anyone to ride in an elevator along with him.
Under the Nevada Constitution, members of the Assembly and Senate are given authority to judge the qualifications of their own members.
Horne said the committee will hold public meetings, and legal staff is working on setting up procedures and “due process that will be afforded to Mr. Brooks.”
He said he expects hearings to commence in about two weeks. After that, the panel will recommend to the full Assembly what action, if any, should be taken, including possible expulsion — something that’s never been done before in Nevada.
Brooks, elected to his second term in November, has been under scrutiny since his Jan. 19 arrest over threats he is accused of making against Kirkpatrick. According to police reports, 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.
Horne said the select committee’s investigation will not address the pending criminal case, but rather “various conduct over the last few months.”
Formal charges have not yet been filed in the criminal case, which is being handled by the attorney general’s office.
Brooks has denied wrongdoing.