Sigh….yet another hypocritical politician. Hey, nobody’s perfect, but when your focus as an elected official is legislating the morality of others, you should probably possess some pretty impeccable ethics yourself. Senator Jim Shockley (R, Victor), chair of the Judiciary, State Administration, and Ethics committees was cited last week for open container after an off-duty police officer noticed him drinking a beer while driving. Shockley’s committee is hearing a number of bills regarding impairment as many consider Montana’s lax DUI laws to be responsible for high fatality rates on our highways. Senator Shockley is seeking a repeal of the medical marijuana law claiming “it breeds lawlessness.” He is also sponsoring a bill to allow game wardens to issue minor in possession tickets as well as one authorizing warrants to obtainblood or breath tests in DUI cases.
Senator Jim Peterson, President of the Senate, in reaction to Shockley’s citation, released the following statement:
“We are obviously very disappointed to hear the report that a member of our body was found to be in possession of an open container while driving last Friday evening. We are in full support of strong laws against drinking and driving that apply to every Montanan. We are committed to pursuing meaningful DUI reform and working to change the culture of drinking and driving in Montana.”
I wonder if Shockley has been smoking some medical marijuana…. considering the lawlessness of his actions. It seems that every day in our local newspapers, we read articles about Montanans being arrested for their eighth, tenth, or even their fourteenth citation for driving under the influence of alcohol. Perhaps the legislators should focus on keeping habitual drunk drivers off of our streets instead of obsessing over repealing the medical marijuana law simply because it doesn’t fit into their idea of morality.
I realize that everyone makes mistakes, but we should hold our elected officials to higher standards. Shockley’s excuse for drinking and driving was that it was a lapse in judgement. Returning home from the legislative session in Helena, he stopped in Drummond to clear his windshield and purchased a Clamato according to Shockley. He admitted to drinking one beer prior to leaving Helena as well. Although the senator’s BAC was .03 (below the legal threshold of .08), this hardly seems like a “lapse in judgement” considering he had to purchase the beer and Clamato. One would think that there would have been at least one moment where he recalled supporting a law banning the activity in which he would be momentarily participating. I realize this charge isn’t the end of the world, Shockley was clearly not legally intoxicated this time, but how often does he drink alcohol alone as he commutes to and from Helena? Could he truly not curtail his habit while serving in our brief biennial session? Way to provide Governor Schweitzer (who recently called the Montana legislature the “biggest boozers”) more ammunition.
I really do prefer criticizing liberals so I pray the GOP stops giving me reason to chastise them. Sadly, hypocrisy reigns supreme in politics. That said, this is Senator Shockley’s first alcohol-related offense. He paid his fine, accepted responsibility, and will no doubt be punished in his bid for attorney general. Hopefully in the future, he will remove the log from his own eye before condemning and imposing regulations on others.