Rep. Mark Buesgens violated his probation from a drunk driving guilty plea by drinking Wednesday night, the Jordan Republican said.
"I fully admit I should not have had that drink and I’m ready to abide by whatever consequences the court decides," said Buesgens, who pleaded guilty to drunk driving charge late last year.
Buesgens was stopped by a Scott County Sheriff's deputy Wednesday night after a caller saw his car and reported that he or she believed the driver was drunk. Kevin Studnicka, the Scott County Sheriff, said the report did not include what the driver, who turned out to be Buesgens, did that made the caller suspect a violation.
Studnicka said a deputy tracked down Buesgens car, witnessed a turn-signal violation and stopped the representative. When stopped, Buesgens initially said he had nothing to drink, then said he had two mixed drinks during dinner, the sheriff said. Buesgens said he had just one mixed drink.
The sheriff put out a news release about the incident, which Buesgens' attorney Ron Rosenbaum said seemed quite unusual since Buesgens was not arrested. Studnicka said he knew the incident would generate a lot of calls.
A preliminary breath test found that Buesgens blood alcohol was 0.008, well below the legal limit. Still, consuming any alcohol is a violation of Buesgens two-year probation, the representative said.
"I just had the one and that was one too many," he said. The seven-term representative said he called his probation officer Thursday morning to let him know of the violation. He said he did not know what his punishment would be.
Buesgens, who worked for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer last year, said he went through chemical dependency treatment after he was arrested late last year for drunk driving. Last September, Buesgens was arrested after police found him in his car in a Wright County ditch. A preliminary breath test, showed his blood alcohol content at 0.16, twice the legal limit.
The treatment, he said, was very helpful and claims he had not had a drink until Wednesday night, "believe it or not" he said.
But Wednesday night, he was at the St. Paul Grill, near the state Capitol with other lawmakers and he said he thought: "It was just a long day, sitting having a burger, you know, we were talking about the tobacco tax increase and, 'Gee, a drink would sound good.'"
He would not identify the other lawmakers who were present. He said he plans to continue his job at the Legislature.
Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers said in a statement Wednesday that he had not spoken to Buesgens since the most recent violation.
"These allegations are serious, and we expect Rep. Buesgens to continue to take responsibility for his actions. We will support and pray for him in his recovery effort, and have requested that he seek additional professional evaluation and follow all recommended action,” Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said in a statement.
Buesgens also faces financial trouble. Late last year, the bank that holds his mortgage moved to foreclose upon his Jordan home. The foreclosure was delayed but Buesgens said Thursday that he may lose his home.
"It is not looking promising," he said.