Openly Gay Top Lawmaker Pleads Guilty To Using Campaign Funds For Personal Use

Nevada's Democratic Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson resigned from his legislative seat on Tuesday in an emotional speech telling his colleagues he would plead guilty to charges of using campaign funds for personal use, according to The Nevada Independent.

It was recently discovered that Atkinson had misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for personal use.

Misuse of campaign funds is a state and federal crime which carries a possible prison sentence of 20 years.

“I am embarrassed, I am ashamed and I am truly, truly sorry,” Atkinson said a tear-filled speech from the floor of the Senate. “I pray for your forgiveness.”

“I hope to have the opportunity to prove someday that this is not who I am, just something I did wrong,” said the 49-year-old former lawmaker.

“I have no one to blame but myself” for the matter,” he added. “I just pray that someday I will have the opportunity to contribute to my community once again in a meaningful way.”

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak publicly denounced Atkinson’s deeds in a statement Tuesday morning. 

“I am extremely disappointed in the news that Kelvin Atkinson misappropriated campaign funds for his personal use,” the governor said. “This admitted violation of the law goes against the integrity every elected officer in the state of Nevada should uphold.”

“Saddened and disappointed” were the words used by the executive director of the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus, Cheryl Bruce.

Atkinsons’s deputy, state Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro, is reported to replaced him. She will be Nevada’s first female Senate Majority Leader.

First elected to the Nevada state Assembly in 2002, Atkinson joined the Senate in 2012. He was the Silver state’s first openly gay Senate leader, and only the third African American to hold the position.

Atkinson famously came out during a 2013 debate in the Senate regarding repealing Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The following year, he and his husband were among the first same-sex couples to be married in Nevada.

Watch the report from the local ABC News affiliate below.

(h/t Nevada Independent)

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