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NV Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle resigns amid sexual harassment claims

Posted at 12:14 PM, Mar 14, 2019

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Democratic Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle is resigning following sexual harassment claims against him.

In a statement released to the press, Sprinkle says, “In light of the growing sexual harassment claims against me I will be resigning from my position as state assemblyman effective today. I consider myself to be a caring and compassionate person who has worked hard to serve the people who have elected me to office.

I am truly disappointed in myself for anything that I have done to discredit the legislature or the state of Nevada. As for the claims against me, I am so sorry that anyone ever felt harassed or threatened by me. While that was never my intention, I am taking full responsibility for my actions and would never discredit the feelings or concerns of someone who felt wronged by me. I will continue to seek therapy to better myself and can only ask for forgiveness from those whom I have hurt but mostly from my family who do not deserve what I have put them through. At this time, I ask the members of the press to respect my family’s privacy.”

The Democrat lawmakers resignation came just nine days after fellow Democrat Kelvin Atkinson stepped down from the State Senate amid a federal investigation into the misuse of campaign funds.

RELATED: Senate Democrats: Nevada Senate leader Atkinson to resign

While it is easy to tie the two resignations together because of the short timeframe between them, many in the political world point out they came for vastly different reasons.

Sprinkle's resignation is becoming far more common in the wake of recent societal changes that have sparked better reporting of sexual harassment concerns.

Rebecca Gill, who studies politics and sexual harassment issues as the Director of the Women's Research Institute of Nevada, says one thing she takes away from Sprinkle's statement is the fact the reporting system established by the legislature is working.

"I think this type of system gives him the ability to learn from this without having every single story out in public," Gill said.

The Associate Professor at UNLV also pointing out the system, which allows victims to report concerns anonymously is helping make those victim's feel more protected from ridicule.

"It seems to be the result of the new reporting system in the Nevada legislature that allows people to report harassment complaints confidentially, so those reports don't have to come out in public," Gill said.

"I think there was no system before to speak of. Yes, I think this has always been going on, and now it is not just that there is a system for reporting, but there is also this attention to what the sexual harassment experience is like in real life."

Another reason Gill says the new system is seeing results is because of the growing number of women who are involved in politics and positions of leadership.

"What we have seen is the steady increase in the percentage of women, people are getting used to the idea that women also belong in these positions," Gill said. "When women are not a rarity anymore we start to see things from their perspective."

While some will point to political parties involved in recent cases, Gill said sexual harassment isn't an issue limited by political affiliation.

"I would never believe this is a partisan issue. This is an issue of our society starting to reform itself. I would be incredibly surprised if there weren't similar patterns across party lines," Gill said.

Governor Steve Sisolak released the following statement regarding Democrat Mike Sprinkle’s resignation from the Nevada Assembly.

“I am profoundly disgusted and outraged by Mr. Sprinkle’s reported abuse and misconduct. Let me be perfectly clear: sexual harassment is never to be tolerated – especially by an elected official entrusted to serve the public. I commend the courage of those who came forward to report Mr. Sprinkle’s behavior, and I encourage and support anyone who is made to feel uncomfortable to voice their concerns.

“From day one, I have been committed to ensuring state government is a safe environment for all hardworking employees, which is why I established the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment with my very first executive order. Let me send a clear message to any and all individuals who think it’s okay to harass others in the workplace: such behavior will not be tolerated, and my administration will see to it that such bad actors face the consequences of their behavior. I also applaud the Nevada legislature for its leadership last session in creating a comprehensive process to investigate complaints of harassment within the legislature.

“I am committed to fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns about any inappropriate behavior and feel confident that they will be protected throughout the process. I look forward to strengthening our system of reporting and investigating misconduct complaints within state government even further.”

GOP response to resignation:

“You’re not experiencing déjà vu, Nevada,” Nevada Republican Party Executive Director Will Sexauer said. “Another Nevada Democrat is resigning due to scandal. Speaker Frierson must release the details of the sexual harassment allegations that have forced Mike Sprinkle from office. Nevadans deserve answers.”

Now county commissioners in Washoe County will begin the process of finding a replacement for Sprinkle to finish the legislative session.