A Democrat from Wisconsin running to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan in Congress was arrested and pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in 1998, in addition to eight other arrests, according to documents obtained by CNN.
Two of Randy Bryce’s arrests were more recent – in 2011 and 2018 – while protesting the policies of Ryan and Wisconsin’s GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, but the majority of Bryce’s arrests stem from a single incident of driving under the influence, including three times for driving with a suspended license.
Bryce launched his campaign in June 2017 to replace Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District and quickly became a rising star for many progressives because of his support for unions, Medicare for all, a $15 hourly minimum wage, paid family medical leave and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Ryan announced in April that he wouldn’t run for re-election and CNN rates the race as competitive, though it leans Republican.
Bryce is facing Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers in a Democratic primary on August 14. Bryce had raised a total of around $4.8 million as of March 31, the most recent records available from the Federal Election Commission.
Bryce’s time in the political spotlight has brought out some unflattering aspects of his past, including the revelation that he was two-and-a-half months delinquent on paying child support to his ex-wife in September 2015, and it took nearly two years for him to pay it off. And this week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Bryce blamed unions for many people thinking that unions are useless and and outdated because, he said, “The labor movement has become lazy.”
Bryce’s multiple arrests, however, have not yet been reported on, other than those that occurred in 2011 and 2018.
According to public records obtained by CNN, Bryce was arrested in April 1998 for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol – or OUI– in Schoolcraft County, a small, rural county in Michigan. Though Michigan law classifies the offense as an OUI, it’s commonly known in other states as a DUI, or driving under the influence of alcohol.
Bryce initially pleaded guilty, then later failed to appear in court in Michigan and a warrant was put out for his arrest. Bryce ultimately appeared in court again in March 2003, where he was sentenced to 65 days in jail, though the judge immediately suspended the sentence, and Bryce received credit for one day served in jail and paid $850 in fines. He was also ordered to complete four days of community service.
In a statement to CNN, Bryce said, “There is no excuse for what I did 20 years ago when I got behind the wheel and operated under the influence. I made a mistake and I regret it. I’ve worked very hard to learn from my mistakes so I can be a man my son can be proud of. I’m not perfect, but I know the struggles working people go through. I understand the mistakes that any of us can make. I’ve certainly learned from mine.”
Bryce has other arrests before and after his 1998 arrest.
In December 1991, on his 27th birthday, Bryce was arrested in Wisconsin for marijuana possession, property damage, trespassing and theft, through the theft and trespassing charges were dropped. Court records dating that far back are unavailable, and according to campaign spokesperson Julia Savel, Bryce says he doesn’t remember the court’s decision, though he says he didn’t pay any fine or serve time and believes the charges were dropped.
After having his license suspended following his 1998 OUI in Michigan, Bryce was arrested three more times for driving with a suspended license and registration in Wisconsin.
In September 1998, Bryce was arrested in Milwaukee County and pleaded no contest to driving with a suspended license, for which he was ordered to pay a $124.90 fine.
In October 2000, Bryce was arrested in South Milwaukee for driving with a suspended license and had to pay a $1,000 bond. Bryce, who had recently begun working as an ironworker, didn’t qualify for a public defender, and the court entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. In December, he failed to appear in court and the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
Bryce was arrested under the warrant in February 2001, and after being held in jail for one day, was released after paying a $500 bond. In March 2001, he pleaded guilty and paid a $200 fine.
In January 2003, Bryce was again arrested in South Milwaukee for operating a vehicle with a suspended license, though it was later amended to operating without a license. He pleaded guilty and paid a $100 fine instead of having a suspended license for another two years.
Regarding vehicular arrests that occurred after his OUI, spokesperson Savel released the following statement: “To put this in context, when this happened Randy had recently beaten a late-stage aggressive form of cancer during which time he didn’t have health insurance. He was able to dig himself out of bankruptcy which was related to his mounting medical bills because he started his new career as a union ironworker. Randy has made mistakes, and as he said, there is no excuse for his actions. But he also has worked hard to right his wrong and grow from the experience, like so many other working people find themselves having to do.”
Bryce’s most recent arrests were for taking part in illegal protests.
In October 2011, Bryce was one of 19 people arrested for occupying Johnson’s office in Milwaukee. Johnson was not in the office at the time, and Bryce was later found guilty and paid a $75 fine.
In March 2018, Bryce was arrested with nearly two dozen other activists who were blocking traffic near Ryan’s office in Racine, Wisconsin. Bryce and the others were demonstrating in support of the DREAM Act, which would provide protection for people brought to the US illegally as children.