Tom Emmer campaign alcohol problems keep getting worse

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Mark Buesgens: Part of a booze problem in the Emmer campaign.
This is starting to look like a pattern.

Following state Rep. Mark Buesgen's arrest Saturday on drunken driving charges, Tom Emmer now has to deal with four separate stories involving members and former members of his campaign, and their run-ins with the law over alcohol consumption.

The first person is Emmer himself. He's been arrested for drunken driving twice, in 1981 and 1991. And as a state representative, he once authored legislation that would have made drunken driving records private after 10 years and allowed DWI offenders to keep their licenses until they're convicted.

Emmer's DWI issue was first raised in the spring by Rep. Marty Seiffert, one of Emmer's challengers for the GOP nomination for governor. It came in the form of a letter from Sandra Berg, whose husband and son were severely injured by a drunken driver. She was dismayed that Emmer's DWI record was being swept under the carpet by Republicans.

Seiffert's campaign manager, Kurt Daudt, said the campaign distributed the letter because it "provides factual information about a vital issue for the delegates to consider."

Emmer said his "good name" was being smeared.

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Tripp Emmer, left, and the penis pictures on a passed-out girl's face.
Two weeks ago we broke the story about Tripp Emmer, Tom's son. He was cited for underage drinking while he was a paid campaign staffer. We also published pictures from Facebook of an under age Tripp over a passed out woman at a beer-lubricated party, on whose face someone had drawn penis pictures.

"My son made a serious mistake and has paid the consequences," Emmer said in a statement about the citation, without addressing the photographs. "It was a mistake which many Minnesota families are all too familiar with. Like all the other challenges in life, our family is dealing with our son in this matter with humility, seriousness, and love."

Buesgens was arrested on Saturday in Wright County after a deputy saw him trying to drive out of a ditch.

According to documents on file with the state, he was Emmer's campaign chairman at the time of the arrest. But Team Emmer is insisting Buesgens was off the campaign payroll as of Sept. 12 -- before the arrest.

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Nevertheless, Tom Emmer had to lay down cover for Buesgens yesterday:

"Mark made a serious mistake in judgment. I am thankful that he did not hurt others or himself. Driving under the influence is not acceptable. Mark is a friend. He is a good man. We will help him and his family in any way possible. They are in my thoughts and prayers."

And Buesgens put his tail between his legs in this statement:

"I have taken immediate, proactive steps to address this issue, including scheduling a chemical health evaluation with a certified professional. I am fully and completely committed to doing everything possible to ensure that these serious issues are addressed appropriately and effectively."

Then, yet another shoe dropped. AP reported that former Emmer campaign manager David Fitzsimmons was arrested for drunken driving in Hennepin County in May.

Fitzsimmons held the Emmer campaign chair before Buesgens, but, like Buesgens, he said he was off the Emmer team before his drunken driving arrest. He pleaded the guilty charge down to a misdemeanor and ended up with a fine and probation.

"It was kind of one of those right-on-the-line things," Fitzsimmons said of his ability to avoid a DWI conviction.

Team Emmer has to be wondering whether this pattern of alcohol abuse is going to put its own campaign right on the line, too.

Continuing coverage:

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