A campaign spokeswoman for Iowa Sen.-elect Joni Ernst (R) was arrested last month for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and resigned shortly thereafter, The Des Moines Register reported.

Gretchen Hamel — a Washington communications consultant — was found by police passed out behind the wheel of her car on Oct. 29. She appeared to have crossed lanes and driven over the curb, according to the Register.


A witness told the newspaper that when officers began to question her, she drove her car forward and almost hit one of them. A preliminary Breathalyzer test later determined her blood alcohol content level to be .181. The legal limit in Iowa is .08.

Hamel “pleaded” with a police officer not to arrest her, since she said that would lead to her losing her job, according to the Register.

"This is a personnel matter which we will not discuss in the press. We wish Gretchen nothing but the best and appreciate her efforts,” Ernst’s campaign manager, Jon Kohan, told the Register.

The paper also reported that the incident was not Hamel’s first driving offense in Iowa. Earlier in October, she crashed a Ford Explorer into a sign post.

Officers found her intoxicated in the passenger seat of the Explorer. She said that a man had been driving the car and had run off — something she later admitted to officers was not true. However, she was not charged with operating while intoxicated because they had not witnessed her actually operating the vehicle.

She was charged with failure to maintain control of her vehicle in that incident. She was also charged with having an invalid license and holding expired insurance.

The news comes just days after Ernst defeated Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell Braley2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward MORE (D-Iowa), winning the Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer New Hampshire parochialism, not whiteness, bedevils Democrats Democrats must question possible political surveillance MORE (D-Iowa). She ran a conservative campaign that was backed by her military experience and background growing up on a family farm.