The legislator arrested for drunken driving early Friday morning in Ames plans to plead guilty to the charges. Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone, today said he made a “horrible decision.”
“That’s an understatement. I don’t know any other way to describe it,” Baltimore said during an interview. “…The simple matter is I had too much to drink and got behind the wheel.”
Baltimore was charged with first-offense drunken driving and, because he had a gun in his vehicle, he was charged with possession of a gun while intoxicated. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer removed Baltimore as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee this (Monday) morning and appointed another Republican to lead the panel.
“I do not want my situation to be a distraction from the work of the committee,” Baltimore said, “and that’s exactly what it would have been.”
Baltimore told reporters he hasn’t yet decided whether he will seek reelection this fall because he has “other matters” to consider.
“First and foremost, obviously, I’ve got to get the legal matters taken care of,” Baltimore said. “…In terms of the legislature, my goal is to ensure a smooth transition…over to Representative Nunn…we’ve talked already…and then to support him and the committee in any way that I can.”
On Friday in a written statement, the House Speaker said she would work with Baltimore to get him the help he needs.
“We’re going to work through the processes to figure out what that is,” Baltimore said. “I think clearly I want to make sure that I never, ever make that decision again.”
Baltimore, who is an attorney, notified the Iowa Supreme Court of the charges he faces on Friday. The justices on the court decide any discipline for violations of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers.
“They will make whatever determination they need in terms of how I need to be addressed,” Baltimore said. “…That’s part of the consequences of my decision and I’m accepting full responsibility for that, especially in terms of self-reporting. It’s an obligation that we have as lawyers and I take that seriously and we’ll see where that goes.”
The rules apply to a lawyer’s business and personal affairs. It is a violation of the code to “commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.”
Baltimore is the in-house counsel for a bank in Boone.