CARSON CITY — It’s actually called the Select Committee on the Assembly, a special body created by Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, to investigate the conduct of Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas. Although existing committees — think Legislative Operations and Elections, or even the little-discussed Ethics Committee created Rule 23 of the Standing Rules of the Assembly — could have tackled the job, a special body was impaneled instead.
It will be chaired by Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, the No. 2 person in Assembly leadership. Ironically, Horne was Brooks’s choice for speaker after Assemblyman Marcus Conklin was narrowly defeated for re-election in November. Horne is an attorney in private practice and a graduate of the Boyd Law School at UNLV. In 2011, he served as chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Democrats on the committee include Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, D-Las Vegas, a contractor, who, like Brooks, is Hispanic; Assemblyman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, another attorney who is also the current chairman of the Judiciary Committee; and Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, a contract administrator who holds a law degree from Southern University Law Center. (Neal, Frierson and Horne were included in at least one email about the Brooks matter sent by Las Vegas Councilman Ricki Barlow, who was initially said to have overheard a threat made by Brooks against Kirkpatrick, but who later denied that allegation.)
Republicans on the panel are Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, a former journalist and contractor who is the leader of the Assembly’s Republican caucus; Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, a retired high-school teacher; and Assemblyman Wesley Duncan, R-Las Vegas, an attorney and Air Force veteran. Another irony: Duncan’s defeat of Conklin led to the power struggle in the race for speaker that pitted Kirkpatrick against Horne that led to Brooks losing out on better committee assignments that fed his disdain for Kirkpatrick in the first place.
The fact that four of the seven committee members hold law degrees is significant; the work of this committee is likely to be questioned, and may be challenged in court. The committee will get support from the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s legal division as well as an independent counsel, who has yet to be hired.