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October 24, 2014

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Republicans call for more transparency before Brooks vote

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Assemblyman Steven Brooks, left, shakes hands with Assemblyman Pat Hickey Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, during the 2013 legislative session in Carson City.

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, called on Democratic leaders to provide more details on the evidence used to support the Select Committee's decision to recommend troubled Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, be expelled from the Nevada Legislature before the Assembly takes a vote on the ouster.

"I am hoping we may have a more open process," Hickey said. "I would like to see the panel come before the entire body and report on our reasons for the recommendation and to take a series of questions from the body. This is such a historic vote, we need to do more to make it clear. We owe it to the whole body."

Hickey was one of six lawmakers to vote in support of recommending Brooks be expelled from the Assembly after a three-hour closed door meeting inside a Carson City courtroom late Tuesday. Only Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, voted against recommending Brooks' ouster.

The committee, chaired by Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, reviewed two 25-page reports and more than 900 pages of supporting documents presented by an independent counsel during the closed session. When the three Republicans and four Democrats emerged to conduct a public vote, they said little about the reasons they found Brooks to be unfit to continue serving in the Legislature.

The independent counsel, Mark Ferrario, said he could not release the investigative report because it contained confidential information including medical records, police investigation details and statements from witnesses who had been promised confidentiality.

The committee members, all of whom appeared somber and weary from the late night hearing, said they were saddened by the events but convinced that Brooks could no longer serve because of health and other reasons.

Since January, Brooks has been arrested twice and detained once for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation. He also attempted to buy a rifle at a Sparks sporting goods store and was kicked out of a Reno casino for causing a disturbance.

Republicans aren't the only members who are concerned about the lack of public disclosure on the details for ousting Brooks.

Democrats have delayed a floor vote until Wednesday evening at the earliest because caucus members wanted more details on the committee's reasoning.

Horne said he can't distribute the investigative reports because "they are confidential."

Democrats are expected to meet in a private caucus meeting to review additional information from the investigation. Horne said he is hopeful other lawmakers will trust the judgement of the committee members, who were specifically selected because of their reputation and relationships with Brooks.

The Assembly is in recess until the call of the chair. A floor vote could occur this evening or be further delayed depending on how comfortable individual lawmakers are with their caucus presentations.

Hickey said his caucus feels mostly comfortable with the recommendation, seeing it as their duty to protect the integrity of the Legislature.

Brooks has been placed on administrative leave and banned from the Legislative Building. His lawyer is fighting that action in the Nevada Supreme Court.

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