State Rep. Randy Ramey, the chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party, briefly hints at his political clout while pulled over for a DUI last August, according to a video of his arrest that is now circulating on the Internet.
But Ramey, of Carol Stream, says the video taken from a Carol Stream police cruiser has surfaced for political reasons. He claims his opponent in the race for a state Senate seat is using it to pressure him to bow out of the race.
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"Do you know who I am?" Ramey asks a Carol Stream police officer as he is being handcuffed after struggling through several field sobriety tests. The officer responds, "I could care less," and Ramey does not push further.
Ramey, making a primary bid for the 23rd District state Senate seat against state Sen. Carol Pankau, of Itasca, was arrested just before 2:30 a.m. Aug. 28 in Carol Stream.
At one point, Ramey blows into a breath-test device and the officer reports it showing a blood-alcohol level at .204 percent, according to the video.
"That's not good," Ramey is heard remarking to the police officer.
Ramey in September pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, a misdemeanor. He received a $1,750 fine and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. He is working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
In a phone interview Thursday night, Ramey said Pankau's campaign told him that if he chose to bow out of the race, the police tape would not be circulated, a threat he said he disregarded. Ramey is the stepson of former Senate President James "Pate" Philip.
"This wouldn't even be out there if they didn't (submit a Freedom of Information Act Request for) the video and release it after first threatening me," Ramey said.
Pankau's campaign released a written statement noting, after watching the police video of Ramey's arrest, "Sen. Pankau made the decision, for the good of the Republican Party, to share the video with leaders in the party, as we were concerned with the abuse of power Rep. Ramey exhibited."
The Pankau campaign says, however, it "did not approach Rep. Ramey about withdrawing from the campaign."
Ramey notes that he "didn't ask for any special favors" from police.
"He can see the back of my truck with my name all over it. My plate says '55 REP,'" Ramey said. He is now the state representative for the 55th District.
Ramey also shared with the Daily Herald a written statement that his campaign plans to release.
"I take full responsibility for driving under the influence that evening last year," Ramey writes. "I have never been involved in an incident like that before and I will make sure that nothing like that happens again. I paid a substantial fine and I am performing community service. I thank God that nothing was damaged and no one was hurt."
It is important, he continues, "to learn from our mistakes and I can tell you that this will be an ongoing effort on my part."
Ramey is not the first suburban lawmaker to get in trouble for appearing to use influence with police. In October, Sen. Suzi Schmidt, a Lake Villa Republican, said she wouldn't seek re-election after she was heard on a 911 tape noting her political title before asking police to ignore calls from her husband regarding a domestic disturbance.