Top Ernst Aide Arrested For Drunk Driving; Story Buried Until After Election
November 7, 2014

Koch operative Gretchen Hamel seems to have a bit of a problem with alcohol and driving, according to this tardy story from the Des Moines Register. Hamel was Joni Ernst's spokeswoman until October 30, when she resigned after being arrested for driving under the influence. Her blood alcohol content was .181 at the time.

Gretchen Hamel, a campaign spokeswoman for Joni Ernst's U.S. Senate campaign, was arrested on Oct. 29 for operating while intoxicated and resigned the morning after the incident.

West Des Moines police found Hamel passed out behind the wheel of her vehicle after crossing lanes and driving her car over a curb on the 6100 block of Beachtree Drive at about 10:30 p.m., according to a police report.


Robert Daniels, a resident of the area, said that he and another witness found Hamel hunched over her console with the car still running. Her vehicle appeared to have crossed the opposite lane, which struck Daniels as odd and prompted him to check out the scene and call police, he said.

An officer arrived and shined a flashlight into Hamel's car after unsuccessful attempts to wake her.

"All of a sudden she floored it and the car ran up the curb with all four tires and almost ran over the cop," Daniels said.

Hamel blew a .181 on a preliminary breathalyzer test and "pleaded" with an officer not to arrest her, saying "this would cause her to lose her job," the report stated.

That wasn't the first time she was found under the influence. The first time was October 13th. The description of the incident paints a pretty ugly picture of her character, too.

At 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, Hamel crashed her Ford Explorer into a sign post at the intersection of 142nd and Meredith streets in Urbandale. She was in the passenger seat when Urbandale police arrived. She claimed a man named "Robert" was driving the vehicle and "took off running" after striking the post, according to an Urbandale police report.

"Hamel later admitted that she lied and that she was the one driving the vehicle," the report states.

Hamel blew a .164 on a preliminary breathalyzer test but wasn't arrested "because she wasn't operating the vehicle when officers arrived," the report states. She told officers she had had three drinks but had not eaten anything.

Hamel was charged with failure to maintain control of her vehicle, and having an invalid driver's license and expired car insurance.

Ah, Republicans and their outsized sense of personal responsibility. All on parade, right there.

Not that it would have changed the outcome of the election, but it still seems quite wrong that the story was buried until the election results were in. To me, that smacks of influence at a high level over at the newspaper. Top campaign aides don't have things like this go unnoticed.

So why bury it? It wasn't Ernst driving, it was Hamel. It seems to me they should have been on this when it happened.

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