Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 | 2 a.m.
A district court judge in Clark County has ruled that Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, does not live in the district he ran in as a candidate last year.
But the Assembly approved Martin to serve in the Legislature anyway, and a new committee formed largely to determine whether troubled Assemblyman Steven Brooks is fit for office most likely will not investigate Martin’s residency issues.
“That’s why people think this place is corrupt because of crap like that,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, who wants Martin investigated. “If somebody was decent about this, he’d resign.”
When running for office last year, Martin had to swear under penalty of perjury that he lived in a condo in Assembly District 9 in southwest Clark County. The night before the election, the judge ruled he actually lived in a larger home in Assembly District 2.
In Hansen’s view, Martin likely perjured himself and should be investigated to determine if that’s the case.
“He’s going to pass laws that everybody has to obey?” Hansen said. “How is the public going to perceive the Nevada Legislature? Are we a good ol’ boy network? This is a form of voter fraud.”
The state constitution gives the Assembly the power to seat its own members, and no Republicans formally objected last week when the Assembly convened on the first day of the legislative session.
No Republicans contested the election results either — a process that ultimately would have ended up before the Democratic controlled Assembly, where the chances might have been slim of rejecting Martin’s candidacy in favor of a Republican. The GOP also would have been stuck with the legal fees for the failed effort.
“My election was not challenged and has been certified,” Martin said. “We have to concentrate on jobs and taxation and moving our state forward.”
Republicans had hoped, however, that the select committee formed to determine whether Brooks is fit for office would accept the matter. Brooks was arrested on allegations of threatening Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
As chairman of that committee, Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, has jurisdiction over what matters come before the committee.
Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, who sits on the committee, asked Horne during its first meeting Monday whether he’d open debate about Martin’s qualifications.
Horne told reporters that Martin’s matter would not come before the committee.
“I brought it up because I think it’s important,” Stewart said. “He’s the boss.”
Kirkpatrick said the issue is broader than Martin’s case alone, given that there’s currently wide interpretation of what a residence actually means.
Kirkpatrick and Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey are jointly crafting legislation that would clarify what qualifies as a residence.
“The ambiguity about residency has been around for a long time, and it’s common knowledge that individuals from both parties have skirted the law and had what might be called shadow residences in a district that they chose to run, or even hold an office, in,” Hickey said.
The legislation doesn’t exist yet, but Hickey said he’d like the bill to ensure that another Martin situation doesn’t happen again.
He wants the bill to include a provision saying a judge’s ruling that a candidate does not have a legal residence inside a district should automatically trigger a legislative hearing.
Meanwhile, having exhausted judicial and legislative remedies, Hansen said Secretary of State Ross Miller should intervene in the matter and at least determine whether Martin is guilty of perjury.
“He should be the one prosecuting this,” he said.
But Miller doesn’t appear inclined to do so because no challenge was filed.
"To date there has been no finding that Andrew Martin willfully or knowingly perjured himself on any candidacy declarations filed with Clark County,” said Scott Gilles, deputy secretary of state in charge of elections. “Ultimately, the Legislature has the sole ability to judge the qualifications, elections and returns of its own members."
For Martin, the matter is old news.
“It’s over,” he said. “It’s settled.”