Days after Connecticut State Rep. Robin Comey (D) was discovered to have been drunk while giving a floor speech on a bill, House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) said he “admonished” his colleagues.
Lawmakers apparently have been drinking in the Legislative Office Building (LOB) during the pandemic while they’ve been permitted to vote remotely.
“It’s fair to say that myself and [House Majority Leader] Jason [Rojas] have admonished people,” Ritter said about the Democrats involved, reported CT Mirror.
“I think the incidents are a little more isolated, maybe not as widespread as some might think, but there’s no question that we expect people to be adults, to understand the consequences of their decisions,” he added.
Comey admitted to have been drinking on May 27, but Ritter publicly addressed the issue Wednesday, a couple of hours after Kevin Rennie, a political columnist for the Hartford Courant and former Republican member of the Connecticut legislature, posted a piece on his blog, Daily Ructions. The blog post included the video of Comey, who spoke haltingly and was unable to complete a sentence as she attempted to weigh in on a bill concerning Early Childhood Education and Services.
On Thursday, State Representative Robin Comey, a second term Democrat and Assistant Majority Leader, was incomprehensible when she attempted to speak on an amendment pending before the House. Comey’s condition caused concern on the floor. Representative William Petit (R-Plainville), doctor, hurried to Comey’s side. Aides provided water. A police officer arrived with medical equipment. Petit returned to his seat. Comey was escorted off the House floor. She returned to the Capitol Tuesday.
One legislator fell in a parking garage stairwell while walking from the garage roof where members were drinking to the causeway between the garage and the Legislative Office Building, where some legislators leave their laptop computers that are programmed to allow them to cast a roll call vote from a distance.
“Officers have taken car keys from legislators who appear to be intoxicated,” Rennie reported.
DRINKING & LEGISLATING: You probably don’t get to drink on the job, but some of the people who represent you in Hartford have https://t.co/Bu1vrbr5tH
— John Craven (@johncraven1) June 2, 2021
Comey issued a statement, reported by News12, in which she admitted to drinking:
I would like to sincerely apologize for my behavior last Thursday night. That evening, while speaking on H.B. 6558, I suddenly and unexpectedly began to feel unwell. This was due to several factors, including anxiety, exhaustion, and, regrettably, the wine I had with dinner. In an abundance of caution, I did not drive home and remained in Hartford until the following morning. This type of behavior is not typical for me. I take full responsibility for my error in judgment.
To my Branford constituents, I will continue fighting for you with the same responsibility, respect and commitment as always. I am grateful for your understanding and support.
Todd Feinburg, host of The Todd Feinburg Show on WTIC, Connecticut’s dominant conservative talk station, also posted to social media about the discovery of the drunkenness among some Democrats:
CT State legislators are being warned over their “excessive drinking”. What are your…
Is heavy drinking leading to bad laws passing, or are @CTDems drinking to assuage their guilt over the garbage they push through sober?
"The House of Representatives is wrestling with excessive drinking among legislators while the chamber is in session."https://t.co/1LgDoO0eXE
— Todd Feinburg (@toddtalk) June 2, 2021
According to the Mirror, Ritter said remote voting has changed the routine for lawmakers during the pandemic, and has led to occasions of drunkenness during House sessions.
The report noted that, during the pandemic’s period of remote voting, House Republicans made the decision to not allow their lawmakers to enter the LOB.
The Mirror asked Ritter if he also might close off the LOB to his members, now that the drunkenness has been discovered.
“At this point, all things are on the table,” Ritter said.
“The message was sent loud and clear over the Memorial Day weekend, and so far, things have held tight, but I have my staff, extra staff, over the LOB right now,” he added. “And if we have to make additional modifications, we will. We’re taking this very, very seriously.”