MADISON (WKOW) -- Chairperson Rep. Mary Hubler of a special legislative committee examining the conduct of representative Jeff Wood said she does not support Wood's expulsion from the legislative.
Wood has been arrested three times since December 2008 for allegedly operating while under the influence of intoxicants.
"I don't intend to vote for expulsion," Hubler (D-Rice Lake) said after hearing testimony Tuesday on proposed discipline for Wood. "I am not convinced. He has not been found guilty of anything."
Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) proposed Wood's expulsion from the assembly and testified Wood does not merit the presumption of innocence afforded defendants in court. Nass testified witness statements about Wood's dangerous driving and police dash camera video of Wood falling down during a field sobriety test should be sufficient to find Wood brought disrepute to the legislative body and should be ousted.
Nass said Wood has made excuses for his actions.
"His playing the victim card is truly insulting, especially to the many real victims of roadway carnage at the hands of drunk and impaired drivers. He is another high profile example of the failure of the state of Wisconsin to get serious about repeat drunk and impaired drivers."
During questioning of Nass, Wood's attorney, John Hyland stated there's been no laboratory determination of what was in Wood's system in connection with the two most recent arrests. Wood's blood alcohol level was zero in those instances. Before his last arrest, Wood was an in-patient at a treatment center, and has said he's not sure what prescription drugs were given him. Wood is contesting the charges in connection with his two most recent arrests.
Hubler said an expulsion by the state assembly would be "an embarrassment" if charges against Wood were later dismissed or if Wood was exonerated.
Hubler said Wood's statement of guilt for drunken driving in Columbia County in 2008 made during a previous committee hearing, along with the police video, was enough for her to consider a lesser censure, such as reprimand.
Wood (I-Chippewa Falls) did not testify at today's hearing and made no comment as he left the committee session. Wood faces criminal charges in three counties, and if convicted of all charges filed against him, would be a five-time drunk or impaired driver.
Hubler said she plans to have the special, six member committee vote soon on what to recommend to the full assembly concerning Wood. The committee consists of six democrats and six republicans.
But Hubler said she did not believe the votes were there for the two-thirds support of the 99-member assembly needed to expel Wood.
The last Wisconsin lawmaker to be expelled from the state legislature took place in 1917.
MADISON (WKOW) -- The state lawmaker who proposed the expulsion of Rep. Jeff Wood after Wood was arrested three times for alleged driving under the influence is scheduled to testify today before a special ethics committee.
This afternoon, Rep. Steve Nass, a Republican from Whitewater, told the special ethics committee that Wood has "failed to honor the moral code we must all follow in a free society," saying that Wood is "playing the victim card" rather than owning up to his dangerous behavior.
Wood also has testified at previous hearings that Nass himself failed to pay thousands of dollars in child support. Nass later denied the accusation, although newspaper reports from 1994 state an appellate court ordered Nass to make child support payments.
Wood also testified he was "guilty" of drunken driving in Columbia County in December 2008, when authorities said he knocked down a highway median sign, and was found urinating on the side of the highway. Wood's other two arrests took place in 2009.
But Wood said he would fight the latter two arrests, when his blood showed no trace of alcohol, but Wood admitted to using prescription drugs before driving. In both cases, authorities said witnesses reported Wood's erratic, dangerous driving. A police dashboard camera captured Wood falling down during a field sobriety test prior to his arrest in Tomah.
Wood has two previous operating while intoxicated convictions.
Nass has maintained Wood's conduct brought disrepute to the legislature. Wood's attorney has said members of the state assembly do not have the constitutional authority to censure Wood for conduct other than for officials actions on the assembly floor, during committee meetings and other official settings.
After hearings are held, the committee's recommendation will be considered by the full assembly. No member of the Wisconsin state legislature has been expelled since 1917.
27 News Tony Galli has covered Rep. Wood through his legislative career and on the occasions of Wood's three arrests, and will be staffing today's special committee meeting and providing more information on wkowtv.com, and during 27 News at 5 and 6 p.m.
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