Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 | 12:15 p.m.
The death of singer Whitney Houston had a profound impact on Kathleen Vermillion, the former Henderson City Council member who founded a homeless youth charity now under federal and state investigation.
Vermillion told the Sun today that she spent the past week in Alaska, staying in the home of a relative “to decompress.” Her time away — she returned to Las Vegas Wednesday night — was prompted by the realization that her nightly routine of prescription drugs and alcohol was a lot like the mix that reportedly claimed the life of Houston, she said.
“I took a handful of pills, washed it down with some wine and went to bed, which is the norm for me,” she said. “I can’t continue to manage my stress with Xanax and alcohol.”
Her struggles became public on Feb. 3, when her 15-year-old daughter called 911, seeking medical assistance for Vermillion.
Vermillion is emphatic that she was not trying to kill herself that night. She acknowledged, however, that her behavior is “self-destructive.”
“I’m looking at it and going…‘I don’t know where the lines are blurred between deliberately trying to kill yourself or doing something so reckless that you know it’s going to harm you.’”
Her daughter stayed with family in Las Vegas while Vermillion was in Alaska.
The 911 call came as troubles mounted for Vermillion.
She is the founder of the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, a charity that gained notoriety for its efforts to curb homelessness. In December, however, the group’s new executive director began to question how money — which the group received through grants and donations — was being spent.
Shortly after, he was placed on administrative leave. He then filed a detailed complaint with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, which sources say is going to audit the organization. Meanwhile, sources also say, the FBI is focusing on the Homeless Youth Foundation, which was created as the fund-raising arm of the partnership.
While that was going on, Vermillion filed a lawsuit against her former boyfriend Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Clark County, alleging both had released sensitive medical information about her and violated her privacy. She also alleged Sisolak had an “improper” but not criminal relationship with her daughter.
Sisolak fired back. After Vermillion’s attorney, Rob Martin, asked him for $3.9 million to drop the suit, he filed a police report alleging he was being criminally extorted by Vermillion, Martin, and his public relations adviser, Mark Fierro. Police are still investigating that claim.
The board of the partnership fired Vermillion and reinstated the executive director.
Vermillion dropped her lawsuit against Sisolak and the county.
On Tuesday, county commissioners — not including Sisolak, who abstained from discussion and voting — reaffirmed a $214,000 grant awarded to the partnership in December.