Who says senators aren’t working hard behind the scenes? Kentucky Senator Brandon Smith is doing some deep ex officio digging these days. Unfortunately, the number one constituent Mr. Smith is looking to assist… is himself. The Kentucky senator, accused of drunk driving on the legislature’s very first opening day this month, invoked a law that dates back to the horse and carriage days. The long arm of the law simply may not be long enough in this case.
Writes WKYT.com out of Kentucky on Jan. 22: “In court Wednesday, a judge delayed Sen. Brandon Smith’s arraignment after his attorney filed the request. The motion is based on Section 43 in the state constitution which was added in 1891.”
The 124-year-old statute, dusted off and rolled out front and center by Smith and his lawyer, states: “The members of the General Assembly shall, in all cases except treason, felony, breach or surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House they shall not be questioned in any other place.”
In other words, it would seem legislators cannot be arrested or detained if they are on official duty. An interesting argument, though we are fairly certain that the intent of the law was not to grant lawmakers sweeping immunity for any misdeed committed while the legislative session is open. Then again, we’re only publishers, not policymakers, so perhaps this obtuse argument will fly.
According to State police, the Republican senator was stopped for driving 65 mph in a posted 45 mph zone the evening of Jan. 6 in Frankfort. Smelling of alcohol, police gave Smith a field sobriety test, which he failed with flying colors. According to the Richmond Register, Smith initially tried another strategy to get out of the ticket – lying. But after the trooper got one look at Smith’s “watery and bloodshot eyes,” and the fact he “had to touch the ground to maintain his balance,” he copped to the cop that he had partaken of at least one adult beverage.
Smith blew a .088 on a preliminary breath test administrated at the scene – only slightly above the legal limit, but enough to warrant taking him off the street. Troopers took Smith to the Franklin County Regional Jail, where he refused to submit to an official Breathalyzer test.
According to VoteSmart.org, Smith voted “nay” in 2013 to a proposal to authorize the sale of alcohol on election days. Hmm. Kentucky Senator Brandon Smith: You get our vote for most inane argument.