Rep. Wood's fate likely headed to state assembly - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rep. Wood's fate likely headed to state assembly

Posted:
March 2, 2010 March 2, 2010
MADISON (WKOW) -- A special legislative committee considering three recent drunken driving arrests by Rep. Jeff Wood failed to reach agreement on any proposed discipline, deadlocking on proposals to either reprimand or expel Wood.
 
After the deadlocked votes, committee chairperson Rep. Mary Hubler (D-Rice Lake) predicted the full state assembly would still vote on Wood's fate.   Hubler said assembly democratic leaders could schedule an expulsion resolution for a vote, or the resolution's author, Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), could "pull" the stalled resolution from the committee and force its consideration on the assembly floor.
 
During committee votes, three republican lawmakers supported Wood's expulsion, with three democratic lawmakers opposing it;  the three democrats voted for a reprimand, which was opposed by the republicans.
 
Wood (I-Chippewa Falls) has told the committee he was "guilty" of drunken driving in Columbia County in December 2008, but also said he was contesting two subsequent arrests, when he was driving after taking prescription medication but after drinking no alcohol. In all the cases, police dash camera video indicated Wood's instability, and witnesses reported he had driven dangerously.
 
Wood Tuesday appeared before the committee, claiming toxicology tests in connection with his second arrest had been given to him last Friday. Wood claimed the tests showed the presence of prescription drugs in his system was within the therapeutic range.
 
"I am expecting the district attorney to reduce the charge down from OWI to inattentive driving."
 
Attempts to reach Marathon County District Attorney Kenneth Heimerman have been unsuccessful.
 
Wood's attorney, Tracey Wood, who is not related to the lawmaker said blood test results have come back.  
 
"I was pleased," Wood told 27 News. But Wood declined to comment on the specifics of the test results.
 
Rep. Wood (I-Chippewa Falls) left Tuesday's committee meeting without commenting.
 
Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) said Wood's driving remained a danger to the public and Wood's position as a lawmaker required him to drive more than he otherwise would drive.  
 
Gundrum pointed to state mileage reimbursement records from April 2008. "Nine-hundred-four miles, doing his job, in district; and that doesn't include travel to Madison."
 
Gundrum said police reports from all Wood's arrests state his driving was dangerous. A police dash camera video from Wood's arrest last fall in Tomah shows Wood falling down during a field sobriety test.   
 
Hubler said Wood's test results in connection with his Marathon County arrest were  more reason to reject expulsion.
 
"Now we find out the drugs in his system have come back in the normal range," Hubler said.
 
"He's been found guilty of nothing."
 
But Hubler said she expected lawmakers to support a reprimand of Wood. A state Legislative Council attorney said a reprimand amounts to a statement of dissatisfaction.
 
Wood's expulsion would require a two thirds votes of the 99 member assembly.  
 
Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) originally submitted Wood's expulsion resolution, but conceded attaining the necessary vote appears unlikely.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Assembly ethics committee looking into possible ethics violations by Rep. Jeff Wood declined to recommend any punishment to the full Assembly Tuesday morning.

Instead, the committee will issue a report to the Assembly, and it will be up to the full Assembly to determine what if any sanctions are taken against Rep. Wood.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- An Assembly ethics committee is expected to vote this Tuesday on what discipline to recommend to the full Assembly regarding Rep. Jeff Wood.

Since December 2008, Wood, an independent from Chippewa Falls, has been arrested three times in three separate counties for driving under the influence.

Wood has told the committee he is "guilty" of drunken driving in Columbia County, but his two subsequent arrests involved no drinking.   Wood was using prescription drugs on those occasions and has said he will contest criminal charges in those cases.

The committee's Chairwoman, Rep. Mary Hubler, a Democrat from Rice Lake, says she opposes expulsion as a punishment for Wood and thinks such a move probably wouldn't receive enough votes to clear the full assembly. Instead she says censure or reprimand may be appropriate.

Amendments to an original expulsion resolution include the lesser punishments as options.

Three Republican lawmakers on the six member committee have told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they favor expelling Wood.

No state lawmaker has been expelled from the Wisconsin legislature since 1917.   A two thirds vote of the 99 member assembly would be needed to expel Wood.

Wood has claimed he remains to fit to serve and has pointed to a lack of any recall effort against him from his constituents.

Rep. Stephen Nass, a Republican from Whitewater, authored the expulsion resolution and has demanded that Wood be expelled from the Assembly.

Online reporting by Wendy Hathaway and Tony Galli

27 News Continuing Coverage:

Chairperson says Wood doesn't deserve expulsion (March 16, 2010)

Wood argues against expulsion, testifies about OWIs (March 3, 2010)

Rep. Wood fires back at ethics committee (March 2, 2010)

Hearing to decide Rep. Jeff Wood's fate in office postponed (Feb. 16, 2010)

Wood raises patient care issue (Feb. 03, 2010)

Wood reaches plea deal (Jan. 13, 2010)

Special committee forming to investigate Rep. Jeff Wood (Oct. 26, 2010)

Formal effort to expel lawmaker Wood (October 14, 2009)

Rep. Wood arrested for OWI near Wausau (September 24, 2009)

Legislator in court for OWI, judge to consider vehicle search (July 28, 2009)

UPDATE: Lawmaker not in court, ordered to stay sober (February 4, 2009)

Rep. Wood formally charged with 3rd OWI (January 13, 2009)

Witnesses monitored lawmaker's alleged drunken driving (December 22, 2008)

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