Va. judge dismisses charge against Rep. Ryan

By David Skolnick


A Virginia judge dismissed a public-intoxication charge against U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who called the citation “garbage.”

Ryan, of Niles, criticized police in Lexington, Va., where he was cited with the misdemeanor.

“We were walking down the street, and I had thrown my back out the day before,” he said. “I was contorted and got pulled over. They stopped me. It was bizarre.”

Ryan, D-17th, had left a wedding reception of a staff member and was walking outside when charged by police at 2:01 a.m. Aug. 25.

“I wasn’t intoxicated,” he said. “I was walking strange because of throwing out my back. In this town of Lexington, Va., they stop you for that. They have a history of pulling people over.”

Ryan added: “I couldn’t believe they wanted to arrest me, so I refused to take a Breathalyzer.”

On Tuesday, Gordon F. Saunders, the presiding judge of the Lexington/Rockbridge General District Court, dismissed the charge.

Lexington, Va., police declined Tuesday to give out information in an arrest report except the location and time of the charge and Ryan’s name.

Under Virginia’s public-records law, each police department has the authority to provide or deny further information, according to a Lexington police spokeswoman.

Lexington Police Chief Al Thomas declined to provide additional information.

Ryan, a six-term congressman, didn’t attend Tuesday’s court hearing. He was represented by Attorney David Mackin.

While a student at Bowling Green State University, Ryan was charged three times with disorderly conduct.

He was found guilty of one charge in 1993 for having a fake ID while he was a 19-year-old student. The two other charges were dismissed.

Meanwhile, Ryan was selected Tuesday to serve on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which determines what Democrats get on which committees.

“It’s the committee of committees,” he said.

This paves the way for Ryan to reclaim his seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

“I’m confident I’ll get back on Appropriations,” he said.

A decision could be made as early as today or next week, he said.

Ryan lost his seat on the powerful committee in January 2011 after Republicans took control of the House and lowered the number of Democrats on Appropriations from 37 to 21. Ryan had served four years on the committee.

Seats on most House committees are largely based on seniority, and Ryan was the 23rd-most senior Democrat on it. Enough Democrats are leaving the House to move Ryan into the position to return to the committee.

Appropriations oversees close to $1 trillion in spending bills, and its members often are able to steer millions of dollars into their districts.

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