Friday, May 29, 2009

Rep. John Sullivan Checks Into Betty Ford Clinic

First District Congressman John Sullivan has checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic to treat his "addiction to alcohol." The announcement was made in a relatively brief email statement that went out from Sullivan's campaign address, not from his congressional office.

The statement and corresponding press release went out shortly before 5 pm on Friday. It is a common Washington D.C. practice to release bad or damaging news just before the close of business on the last day of the week, in order to shorten the press cycle.

The statement stat
es that Sullivan will be taking a leave of absence from Congress, but does not state for how long. It merely states that Sullivan looks "forward to returning to serve and work for [his constituents] in the House of Representatives as soon as possible."

It remains to be seen what kind of impact this action will have on Sullivan's political career. Checking into a clinic for rehab never helps, but is far less damaging than if he had been arrested for an alcohol relat
ed offense. Voters are generally very forgiving of those who recognize a problem and seek help.

However, this development will likely have some of the sharks in the Democratic Party pool swimming a little more aggressively, now that they can smell Sullivan's blood in the water. The next few months will be critical ones for Sullivan. First he must successfully complete treatment. Then, he'll have to go about the process of getting before supporters to explain the situation. If he fails to be contrite, it is likely he will lose the lion's share of support he might have from the conservative base of the local party.

Sullivan was already in damage control mode of late, due to his affirmative vote on the first round of stimulus money last fall.

The following text is the complete statement sent out by the Sullivan campaign to supporters:

A Message to the Constituents of the First District of Oklahoma

Today, Congressman John Sullivan released the following statement:

"Last night, I checked myself in to the Betty Ford Center in California to treat my addiction to alcohol.

To ensure my success in this fight, I’ve decided to take a temporary leave of absence from Congress. I value my relationship with the citizens of Oklahoma’s First Congressional District, whom I am privileged and honored to have served for the past eight years. So, I wanted to be open and honest on this tough situation.

I ask for your continued support and prayers as I face the challenges that lay ahead. I look forward to returning to serve and work for you in the House of Representatives as soon as possible.

My family is going through a difficult time right now and I ask that you respect their privacy and keep us in your thoughts and prayers. With God’s help and strength, I will get through this most challenging time in my life."

# # #

[More] Congressman Sullivan's communication's director, John Tidwell, sent me a copy of the press release that was sent out to the media. The text of the document is identical to that sent to supporters and constituents. The media release was sent out by the congressman's D.C. office. As noted above, the notice to supporters was sent via a campaign account.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate the Congressman dealing with this in an honest and forthright manner. However, he is not doing the job he was elected to do and should resign. Recovery is a long and painful process best done at home with family and friends, not the political cauldron of DC.

Michelle said...

I wonder if there is another shoe that will be dropping soon. In the grand scheme of politics, one usually does not just check into rehab without a preceding controversial event. That said, I hope he just realized he had a problem and decided to get help. I will definitely be praying for him. I do think he should resign though. I don't think Washington DC is the best place to recover from an addiction. Just reading about it makes me need a drink.

Bradford said...

I admire him even more for getting treatment. Alcoholism is a disease and it requires treatment. Typical treatment at a place like Betty Ford is 30 days. As far as resigning, no one called on Ted Kennedy to resign while he's been out with a brain tumor for the past several months. So why should Mr. Sullivan be expected to resign b/c he is sick? He's getting treated and he's being open and honest with his constituents. We all need to put politics aside and keep the Congressman, and his family, in our prayers during what has to be an extremely difficult time for all of them.

Anonymous said...

I wish him a speedy recovery and will keep him and his family in my prayers but no way should he resign. He's one of the few good ones left up there and he needs our support now more than ever.

Anonymous said...

This explains the River Tax and Cason Carter endorsements.