McCarthy to Seek Treatment After Fall

Posted March 21, 2003 at 5:10pm

Rep. Karen McCarthy, a five-term Democratic lawmaker from Missouri, will begin receiving treatment for alcoholism following a public incident in which she fell in the Rayburn House Office Building while inebriated late Thursday night.

McCarthy missed a key vote on the budget resolution, which the GOP passed by only three votes, after being hospitalized to treat injuries she suffered during the fall.

The 56-year-old McCarthy released a statement late Friday afternoon acknowledging her alcohol problem and vowing to get help for it.

“I deeply regret my behavior and, as difficult as it is, recognize that my drinking has hurt those who I love and work with. I have hit bottom and I realize I must take action to change.”

McCarthy added: “I am taking the initiative and will confront this disease, and like so many before me, I will win this battle. I will begin immediate treatment, and I ask for the support and prayers of everyone as I begin my recovery. I am truly sorry and apologize to those who I have hurt, and I will do everything I can to regain their trust.”

McCarthy’s office declined to release any further details about her plans.

Sources familiar with Thursday’s incident said McCarthy began drinking around 6 p.m. in the Lindy Boggs Room, a lounge for female lawmakers located in the Capitol, near the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

McCarthy made a 10:30 p.m. vote for the Democratic budget alternative, although sources describe her as having difficulty speaking and walking on her own. On her way back to her Longworth office, McCarthy was seen acting in a strange manner and yelling at passersby.

McCarthy got back to her office in Longworth, but decided around midnight to go home, prior to the vote on final passage of the budget resolution.

As she was leaving Capitol Hill, McCarthy fell head-first down an escalator and sustained serious cuts on her face.

Capitol Police officers and officials from the Office of the Attending Physician were called in to help treat McCarthy, who was described as “belligerent” when help arrived.

McCarthy was taken by police escort to George Washington University Hospital and released several hours later. She required multiple stitches on her face.

“I can tell you that the Congresswoman had fallen and was transported to the hospital” by police around 12:30 a.m., said Capitol Police spokeswoman Jessica Gissubel. Gissubel was unable to provide any further details.

But people familiar with the matter said the Congresswoman’s drinking habits have been a concern for quite some time.

McCarthy, who is divorced, spent 18 years in the state Legislature before being elected in 1994. She is a member of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.