Wisconsin GOP lawmaker accused of showing up drunk on Assembly floor


Republican State Rep. Dale Kooyenga's chances of winning a state senate seat could be complicated by videos from his 2015 budget speech.

Wisconsin Democrats say that Republican state Senate candidate Dale Kooyenga appeared drunk on the Assembly floor as a state representative in 2015 — and that they have the resurfaced video to prove it.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling raised the issue this week at a forum with Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

“None of our candidates have appeared on the floor after having too much to drink,” Shilling said when asked why Democrats can be expected to win big in November.

Fitzgerald was reportedly surprised by the comment, leading him to say the claim was unverifiable and an example of “the dirtiest kind of politics.”

Shilling, however, did not back down — and pointed to footage from the state public access network showing a 2015 speech from Kooyenga.

The videos, apparently from the 2015 budget debates, appear to show Kooyenga speaking slowly and slurring his words.

The footage is dated the same day the Wisconsin Capitol was briefly evacuated following a bomb threat, leading lawmakers to hold what was described as an “unofficial beer summit” at a nearby restaurant.

The claim that Kooyenga was intoxicated at the State House is not new. Voters in the 5th Senate District, where Kooyenga is running against Democrat Julie Henszey, have already received mailers referencing the alleged incident. Facebook ads from the Wisconsin Leadership Committee have also targeted Kooyenga for being “visibly inebriated” at work as a state representative.

However, the issue remained mostly untouched in the campaign until Shilling brought it up at the forum this week.

This is not the first time Kooyenga has been accused of inappropriate or unlawful behavior.

Earlier this year, Kooyenga removed a political sign criticizing Donald Trump from the state Capitol. Kooyenga claimed he took the sign, which had a permit attached to it, because he was afraid someone might hide something dangerous behind it.

Kooyenga was eventually forced to pay a $30,000 settlement over his actions.

With the 5th Senate District key to Democrats chances of flipping the state Senate in November, the fate of the Wisconsin legislature could come down to the question of whether Dale Kooyenga’s judgement as a state representative is worthy of his being promoted to state senator.