Democratic Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson wept as he resigned from the Nevada Legislature during Tuesday’s Senate floor session.
He said he let himself and his family down and he was “truly sorry” for his actions.
He is accused of misusing campaign funds and plans to plead guilty to federal charges.
“I am extremely disappointed in the news that Kelvin Atkinson misappropriated campaign funds for his personal use. This admitted violation of the law goes against the integrity every elected officer in the state of Nevada should uphold. By doing so, he betrayed the trust of the public, and therefore should be held accountable,” said Governor Steve Sisolak.
He said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro will serve as his acting replacement.
Nevada Senate Democrats’ Executive Director Cheryl Bruce released the following statement on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus:
“The Nevada Senate Democrats are saddened and disappointed to learn of the circumstances leading to Senator Atkinson’s resignation today,” Bruce said. “The charges levied against him are serious, and allege conduct that we strongly condemn. His resignation is appropriate. We trust the courts to do justice in this matter. Given what little information we currently have, we won’t be commenting on what appear to be ongoing investigations.
Nevadans sent us here to do a job, and they expect us to fulfill those duties. Under our Caucus bylaws, Assistant Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro will assume the position of acting Leader. With less than 100 days of session remaining, our caucus will continue to focus on fighting for hardworking Nevadans.”
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson released the following statement:
“I am unfamiliar with the details of his particular circumstances. While I’m disappointed by his actions, he appears to be taking full responsibility, as he should. Our job is to focus on passing meaningful legislation that helps all Nevadans. We cannot be distracted from doing the work that voters elected us to do.”
Republican Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer and Assembly Minority Leader Jim Wheeler released the following statements:
“Senator Atkinson has violated the integrity of our elections and broken the trust of the voters and his colleagues,” said James Settelmeyer. “We hope this is an exception, but we must get all of the facts and determine how far this corruption goes. We must preserve the integrity of this institution.”
“The actions of Senate Leader Atkinson are more than troubling,” said Jim Wheeler. “Criminal behavior has no place in our legislature. I applaud the work of our law enforcement and look forward to hearing the final details of this investigation.”
Atkinson’s attorney, Richard Wright said in an emailed statement Tuesday that Atkinson will be pleading to the charge in Las Vegas. He did not offer further details about when the charges would be filed, when Atkinson would appear in court or further details on the charges.
Wright said he was tied up Tuesday and unable to call and return messages seeking more information.