Nevada legislature ousts lawmaker, as "personal matters" cited

Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:45pm EDT

(Reuters) - The Nevada State Assembly voted on Thursday to expel Democratic Assemblyman Steven Brooks, in the first ouster of its kind in the history of the state legislature.

Lawmakers who spoke on Thursday before the vote did not directly say why they were moving to expel Brooks. But the action came a day after a Nevada Assembly Select Committee met behind closed doors and emerged to vote 6-1 to recommend the lawmaker's ouster.

Such closed door meetings are allowed under the Nevada constitution when lawmakers are discussing a colleague's character, alleged misconduct, professional competence, or physical or mental health, said Rick Combs, director of Nevada's Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, a Republican from Reno, said on the Assembly floor before the vote that the move to expel a friend saddened him and his colleagues.

The expulsion of Brooks was approved by a voice vote carried in a live webcast. The ouster was effective immediately.

Hickey added that he and members of the Assembly hoped Brooks "would take care of the personal matters that have made this decision the difficult one that it is."

The action in the Assembly followed arrests and public outbursts by Brooks that began in January when he was jailed on suspicion of leveling a death threat against the incoming speaker, Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a Democrat from North Las Vegas.

In February, Brooks was arrested again, this time outside his Las Vegas home on suspicion of domestic battery and obstructing officers. Police said he had allegedly attacked a member of his family.

Brooks could not be reached for comment on the legislature's action, and his attorney did not return calls.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Leslie Adler)

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