Democratic lawmaker Sprinkle resigns amid harassment claims
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle on Thursday resigned from the Nevada Legislature because he’s facing “growing sexual harassment” claims, making him the second high-ranking Democratic legislator to resign in scandal in less than two weeks.
Sprinkle said in a statement that his resignation would take effect Thursday but he offered no details about the claims made against him.
“I am truly disappointed in myself for anything that I have done to discredit the legislature or the state of Nevada,” he said in the statement. “As for the claims against me, I am so sorry that anyone ever felt harassed or threatened by me.”
Sprinkle, a paramedic and firefighter, served as the party’s majority whip in the Assembly. His resignation and the allegations he faced add to a ballooning political scandal for Democrats, who took control this year of the governor’s office and both chambers of the Legislature for the first time in more than 20 years.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson tearfully resigned on the Senate floor, announcing he faced a federal fraud charge for misusing campaign funds.
Earlier this week, Aktinson pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Vegas to using at least $250,000 in campaign contributions to lease a luxury SUV, open a Las Vegas nightclub and pay for other expenses.
Sprinkle told reporters Wednesday night that he had no plans to resign.
“There has been no formal complaint that I’m aware of and I am not going to comment on any rumors,” he said the night before he announced his resignation.
Sprinkle, who did not appear on the Assembly floor Thursday, said in a statement that he considered himself “to be a caring and compassionate person” and will “continue to seek therapy to better myself.”
Sprinkle’s surprise resignation could cut short plans to revive a landmark Medicaid proposal he was expected to introduce this year. In 2017, Sprinkle proposed opening up the state-federal health insurance program to anyone, regardless of need.
His name was listed with other state lawmakers who support the “No Means No, Ruben” campaign. The effort is aimed at preventing former U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who was on the rise politically before he was accused of sexual harassment, from winning a spot on the Las Vegas city council. Sprinkle’s name was not listed on the campaign’s website on Thursday.
Sprinkle’s resignation comes less than two years after former state Sen. Mark Manendo resigned . The Democrat had been accused of sexually harassing women and a law firm found he behaved inappropriately toward female lobbyists and staffers.
The Legislature’s joint standing rules require the Legislative Counsel Bureau to establish a system that allows a person to report a sexual harassment complaint anonymously.
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said he was informed of Sprinkle’s resignation Thursday morning and is not aware of the existence of any formal complaint made against the Democratic whip. Frierson says it was Sprinkle’s decision to step down.
Frierson says the reporting process does not inform him of a complaint until an investigation is conducted and there are findings. Other Assembly Democrats were tightlipped about Sprinkle. At least 11 Assembly Democrats declined to comment.
Rick Combs, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said Wednesday that no complaints against Sprinkle have been reported to his office.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement that he is “disgusted” and “outraged” by the sexual harassment allegations made against Sprinkle.
The Democratic governor says sexual harassment should never be tolerated and that he’s committed to ensuring state government is safe for employees.
Sprinkle was first elected to the Assembly in 2012.