"I don't want the public to think this is what is happening on a regular basis at the Capitol," the house majority leader said. "There are people doing serious work"

By Sean Neumann
June 09, 2021 12:05 PM
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House Chamber of the State House
Connecticut House chamber
| Credit: Getty Images

Connecticut state lawmakers have been warned about excessively drinking while on the job after a recent viral video of a representative stumbling through her speech.

Speaker of the House Matt Ritter and House Majority Leader Jason Rojas said that they've had conversations with their colleagues about imbibing amid the clip and reports that lawmakers had been drinking too much, including on the roof of the statehouse garage.

"There is no question we expect people to be adults and understand the consequences of their decisions," Ritter told reporters last week, according to local TV station WFSB. "I've been very clear with people that if it happens again there will be significant consequences associated with that."

Rojas said "it's important to clarify these are the exceptions, not any kind of norm."

"I don't want the public to think this is what is happening on a regular basis at the Capitol," he added. "There are people doing serious work."

Said Ritter: "There are lines you cannot cross."

Seat for House Speaker in the State House
Connecticut House chamber
| Credit: Getty Images

The public has not been able to attend legislative sessions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also allowed legislators to attend sessions virtually from their office in an effort to social distance. 

Although the Associated Press reported that, for decades, lawmakers around the country have been known to have drinks during late-night sessions, Ritter said he has had to recently issue warnings "on multiple occasions" to his Connecticut colleagues.

Lawmakers who continue to drink on the job may lose their committee assignments, he told WFSB.

"If somebody ever left this building and injured somebody or themselves, I can't even begin to think about what those consequences would be and I don't want that to happen on our watches," Ritter said.

The continued warnings at the Connecticut statehouse come as a video of state Rep. Robin Comey struggling through her speech in late May spread widely online and got spoofed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last week. 

Comey apologized and blamed the incident on having wine at dinner as well as anxiety and exhaustion.

"I suddenly and unexpectedly began to feel unwell," she wrote in a statement, according to the Connecticut Post. "This was due to several factors, including anxiety, exhaustion, and regrettably, the wine I had with dinner. This type of behavior is not typical for me. I take full responsibility for my error in judgement."