JANUARY 19, 2010
A prominent Republican who for years sponsored and supported laws to curb drunken driving has resigned as Utah Senate Majority Leader after getting arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Sheldon Killpack, a Utah state senator for the last six years, was booked over the weekend after getting pulled over by a state trooper who observed the lawmaker’s vehicle driving erratically in Salt Lake City. The officer detected a “strong odor of alcohol” and performed field sobriety tests. The disgraced senator refused to take a breath test but the trooper got a warrant to take blood.
Killpack was in good company the night he got arrested. At his side in the passenger’s seat was a one-time state congressman forced out by a bribery scandal a few years ago. The former lawmaker (Mark Walker), now a lobbyist, pleaded guilty to violating elections laws for attempting to bribe an opponent in the state treasurer’s race.
Killpack, a highly popular 41-year-old from Syracuse (about 25 miles north of Salt Lake City) was considered a rising star in Utah politics that was widely considered a candidate for higher office. As the leader of Utah Senate Republicans, he spearheaded ethics and health-care reform legislation and always supported measures to curb driving under the influence because his father was killed by a drunken driver when Killpack was a teenager.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Killpack is supposed to abstain from alcohol but he told a local newspaper that the evening he got arrested was not the first time he had boozed it up. In fact, Killpack admitted he’s had conversations with his wife about the possibility that his drinking is a problem.
In his resignation statement, Killpack thanks his family and constituents for their support, but doesn’t rule out a future in politics. “My heart weighs heavy,” he says, adding that he has a “tremendous amount of respect for the legislative process” as well as his colleagues and constituents.
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