Mistakes Mayors Make While They're Drunk

The history of mayors and alcohol includes many regretful mornings

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Martin Resendiz, the mayor of Sunland Park, New Mexico wrote in a court document revealed on Thursday that he was drunk when he signed $1 million in architecture contracts for the city. The company whose contracts he signed is now suing for payment, but the city says the contracts weren't valid. But Resendiz is just the latest mayor to make headlines -- and mistakes -- thanks to his boozing. In fact, it's a grand tradition:

  • Bar brawler: Just last week Bob Ryan, the mayor of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, admitted that he'd passed out on a bar during a drinking binge. MSNBC reports: "Did I pass out on a bar? Yes I did. I'll admit that. Was I in a scuffle? Yes. Did I start it? No, I did not," he told a local radio station. But he reportedly did a bit more than that. According to Reuters, he was filmed "drinking and making rude comments to some female bar patrons, leading to the scuffle with another patron." But Ryan's not letting the gaffe get in his way. He's refused to step down, saying his job is "like therapy."
  • Affairs of the liver: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, now lieutenant governor of California, went into rehab in 2007 after acknowledging a drinking problem. But that all came after the big scandal: The mayor's tight friend and campaign manager, Alex Tourk, quit in disgust after his wife, Newsom appointments secretary Ruby Rippey-Tourk, told him she and Newsom had had an affair in 2005, and then she left the mayor's employ with about $10,000 in catastrophic illness pay. Rippey-Tourk made the whole affair public as part of a substance-abuse treatment program she was in. Soon after, Newsom apologized and announced he would enter a treatment program himself.
  • Crack in his facade: Perhaps the most famous substance-related mayoral gaffe is that of Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry, who was arrested, and eventually did prison time for possessing and using crack cocaine in 1990. He was arrested in a videotaped sting, during which he famously said, "Bitch set me up" about the F.B.I. informant with whom he was caught. Barry stayed in office through his trial and conviction, but decided not to seek re-election. He now sits on the Washington, D.C. City Council.
  • Self Flagellation: The idea of the politician's regretful night out is not a new one. Back in 1897, The New York Times ran a story about the mayor of Bowling Green, Ohio, who "imposed a fine of $5 and costs upon himself for being drunk and disorderly." The worst Part: "His honor," while sleeping it off in the police station, "had to occupy a cell with common drunks."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.