I’ll be watching the show live which is due to begin 10 minutes from now. Until then, here’s what we know so far.
— A Capitol Police report says Congressman Patrick Kennedy was ticketed for three charges in connection with an early morning car crash. The report says Kennedy drove his car into a security barrier just before 3 a-m yesterday. It notes the congressman had red, watery eyes, slurred speech and unsteady balance.
— Kennedy says he did not drink. He says he took two prescription drugs — one for nausea and one for sleep.
— The congressman was cited for failure to stay in the right lane, traveling at “unreasonable speed” and failure to ”give full time and attention” to operating his vehicle.
— A police union official says officers were ordered to take Kennedy home, and no field sobriety tests were done. That’s sparked criticism that the lawmaker, who is also Senator Edward Kennedy’s son, was given preferential treatment. The congressman denies that.
2:54 EDT: Cameras are on and media types have filled the room. Audio is up and I can hear all the chit-chat.
3:02 EDT: Headline on Drudgereport says Kennedy will announce that he is entering rehab.
3:04 EDT: Rep. Patrick Kennedy is at the podium.
3:05 EDT: Kennedy checked himself into the Mayo clinic over the past Christmas holiday for prescription drug addiction. He claims that the events of Wednesday evening concerned him deeply. He has little to know recollection of the events.
3:06 EDT: Kennedy will check into the Mayo clinic today and resume treatment for prescription drug addiction.
3:07 EDT: Kennedy leaves the podium without taking questions from the assembled media.
“Of course, in every recovery, each day has its ups and downs, but I have been strong, focused and productive since my return.”
“I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions,” Kennedy said. “That’s not how I want to live my life. And that’s not how I want to represent the people of Rhode Island.”
Full text | Video
Sen. Edward Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy’s father, released the following statement:
I love Patrick very much and am very proud of him. All of us in the family admire his courage in speaking publicly about very personal issues and fully support his decision to seek treatment. He has taken full responsibility for events that occurred Wednesday evening, and he will continue to cooperate fully in any investigation.
I have the rare and special honor of being able to serve with my son in the Congress, and I have enormous respect for the work Patrick has done. The people of the 1st District of Rhode Island have a tireless champion for the issues they care about, and today I hope they join me in feeling pride and respect for a courageous man who has admitted to a problem and taken bold action to correct it.
We’ve heard a number of explanations of what happened Wednesday night, from police who said Kennedy appeared intoxicated, from Kennedy who stated that he consumed no alcohol whatsoever, then being told that he unintentionally mixed prescription drugs. Just a few hours ago further information came from employees of a local bar who reported seeing Kennedy drinking there, and some have said that CBS News had obtained Kennedy’s bar tab. In his presser, Kennedy revised his recollection to say that he in fact had no recollection of what happened.
Sounds to me like a classic blackout experience, and as such, Kennedy’s prior statements have to be thrown out. He’s been telling a lie since the incident first became public. It’s what alcoholics and drug adicts do.
What concerns me is the action of the Capitol Police, the appearance of preferential treatment, and a coverup to keep the whole thing quiet. It’s clear that Kennedy didn’t intend to admit to anything earlier today, and his handlers apparently made every attempt to shut the story down. Once the story began to unravel though, Kennedy had no choice but to come clean. And now that he’s announced his desire to seek help, it’s likely the remaining questions will go unanswered.
MORE: Patrick Kennedy Should Resign