Just four months after being chosen as the majority leader of the Nevada Senate, openly gay Democratic lawmaker Kelvin Atkinson has resigned amid charges of campaign fund misuse.

Atkinson announced his resignation on the floor of the state Senate on Tuesday, March 5. The 49-year-old had represented Nevada’s 4th district since February 2013 and was picked to be majority leader in November 2018.

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During his resignation speech, Atkinson announced his intention to plead guilty to the federal charges, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“As I rise in this body for what will be the final time, it is with great sadness I am announcing my resignation from the state Senate and this legislative body,” he said.

“Due to mistakes I have made, I will be vacating my seat immediately. Regretfully, it has been discovered that I have used campaign funds for personal use. Thus I will be taking full responsibility for that and be pleading guilty for those actions when the time comes.”

He added: “I’m embarrassed, I’m ashamed and I’m truly, truly sorry. I pray for your forgiveness.”

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On Twitter, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak wrote, “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.”




Within hours of Atkinson’s resignation, Nevada Senate Democrats picked Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro as the new majority leader. She is Nevada’s first female Senate majority leader.

Atkinson, meanwhile, was the first black state Senate majority leader in the United States. He and his husband, Sherwood Howard, were also the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Nevada, as he said on Twitter after they tied the knot in 2014.

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