UPDATED: Campaign Strategist for 98th District Candidate Arrested for 2nd OWI
Rachel Pecor, strategist for Jeanne Tarantino, was arrested in Pewaukee, whose police chief, Ed Baumann, is one of Tarantino's opponents.
This story was updated at 3:14 p.m. with comments from Jeanne Tarantino's campaign.
Rachel Pecor, former campaign strategist for 98th State Assembly candidate Jeanne Tarantino, was arrested for her second OWI on Tuesday in the Village of Pewaukee as she was on her way to pick up Tarantino's daughter from dance class.
Pecor was pulled over at Main Street and Prospect Avenue after she veered into the wrong lane while crossing the center line, according to a police report. She failed a field sobriety test and a breath test, registering a .20 blood-alcohol level, more than twice the legal limit.
Tarantino has since removed Pecor from her campaign with just three full days remaining until election day. Tarantino confirmed Pecor's status with the campaign in a statement released Friday afternoon.
“This is a matter involving a campaign volunteer that is best-handled by local authorities, it would be inappropriate for the campaign to comment further on a pending legal matter," Tarantino said in her statement. "Driving under the influence is a serious and potentially dangerous offense and I would never knowingly allow the safety of my children and neighbors to be put in jeopardy. Ms. Rachel Pecor will no longer be involved with my campaign although I extend my personal support as she seeks to get her private affairs in order.”
The police chief in the Village of Pewaukee, Ed Baumann, is one of three other candidates for the 98th District seat. The Pewaukee Police Department report was obtained Friday via an open records request. Baumann did not immediately respond to an email or phone call request for comment Friday. Pecor declined comment after being reached by phone Friday.
The report states that Pecor, 31, of Elkhorn, will be charged with operating while intoxicated-second offense. The charge will be referred to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s office. However, charges do not yet show in an online court records search.
Pecor told police that her candidate was running for state assembly and asked not to let the arrest become a campaign issue, according dash cam video of the incident first shown on Today’s TMJ4 Thursday night.
Pecor will be in court on Feb. 19 — the same day as the primary election. According to reports, she was later released into Tarantino’s custody after a blood draw at Waukesha Memorial Hospital.
“I am just trying to — this is going to sound really weird — my candidate is running for the Assembly here and I am trying to pick up her daughter for dance class, and I can’t find it,” Pecor is heard saying in the dash cam video.
According to the police report, Pecor thought she was driving on a one-way street and didn’t want to be pulled over. She originally told police she hadn’t been drinking, but then admitted to drinking a glass of wine four hours earlier, the report states. She told the officer she wasn’t doing anything wrong, the report states.
Later, she told police she had two glasses of wine three hours earlier. Pecor told officers she didn’t know where three empty vodka bottles found in the car came from but said she must have picked them up for recycling during another election she participated in out of state.
Pecor told police the vehicle she was driving belonged to her fiancé, who she said is a federal agent.
Recently, Tarantino claimed she was discriminated against and transferred from her state job in the Lt. Governor office because of her age and gender.
Tarantino, a former chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, said this while being questioned in December as part of legal dispute with her ex-husband. The divorce file has since been sealed by a Waukesha County Circuit Judge.