Buchanan District Director Resigns

Posted September 9, 2008 at 11:26am

Rep. Vern Buchanan’s (R-Fla.) district director resigned Monday after Sarasota County officers arrested him Saturday night for drunken driving.

Wearing blue jeans and flip-flops, Ronald Turner, 39, was arrested at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday — just three months after another drunken-driving arrest in Manatee County.

He told officers he “had a glass of wine, as well as a vodka after that,” according to the probable cause affidavit. His blood alcohol level, however, was more than 0.2 — far higher than the 0.08 driving limit. Turner also told officers that he had taken a Hydrocodone earlier.

“The defendant stated he was just heading home from Kirby’s on Clark Rd,” the affidavit reads. But Turner “could not explain why he was all the way north of Bee Ridge Rd when his residence is on the same road as Kirby’s, the bar he had just left from.”

Turner also admitted that his license had been suspended after his arrest in Manatee County, but he said “he was just trying to get home,” according to the affidavit.

He was charged with driving under the influence with a previous conviction, driving with a suspended license and driving under the influence with a blood alcohol of more than 0.2, according to the arrest report.

Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said Turner had worked as district director since January 2007, recently taking a leave of absence to focus on his position as coordinator for Buchanan’s re-election campaign.

On Monday, he resigned both positions because of the arrest, Tibbetts said. The office is hoping to fill the campaign coordinator job “as soon as possible,” she said.

The arrest report describes a clearly drunk Turner, noting that his eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred and his breath smelled of alcohol.

Officers pulled him over after watching his Mercedes swerve “all over the road.”