Matthew A. Doheny, a Republican candidate for the 23rd Congressional District, has disclosed that he was twice charged with boating under the influence during a two-week span in 2004.
"I'm deeply embarrassed that it happened," he said. "I'm disappointed in my actions and disappointed as to what happened."
Mr. Doheny decided to make the information public — rather than wait for an opponent to do so — after the Times recently asked him about rent issues he had in New York City in 2000 and 2005.
Mr. Doheny gave the Times copies of the paperwork from the U.S. Coast Guard. In both instances, Mr. Doheny was stopped while returning to his private island from Alexandria Bay. He paid two fines, totaling $2,500, to resolve the issue, which included four infractions, such as failing to have one life preserver on board.
Upon Mr. Doheny's disclosure, the Watertown Daily Times asked his opponents, Republican Douglas L. Hoffman of Saranac Lake and Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, if they had ever been charged with a crime or arrested. Spokesmen for both men said they had not.
TWO STOPS IN ONE MONTH
The incidents involving Mr. Doheny occurred on July 10 and July 24, six days before and eight days after his 34th birthday.
In a report detailing the first incident, Coast Guard patrolmen described him as "uncooperative," "very angry" and "combative."
"I told Mr. Doheny to calm down and sit down, (but) he proceeded not to and turned toward me and started yelling at me, telling me to arrest him," wrote Ryan W. Chatland, then a petty officer third class. "I then put Mr. Doheny in handcuffs for his safety and my crew's."
Mr. Doheny said he remembers no physical contact and noted he was never arrested. The boater later refused to take a field sobriety test to gauge the amount of alcohol in his body.
Mr. Doheny said he was driving out-of-town friends back to his summer home when he was stopped the second time.
"It's equally as embarrassing," he said of the second stop. "It does obviously show a lapse in judgment. There's no question about that."
Jerry M. Green, then a petty officer third class, wrote that Mr. Doheny was "cooperative and very polite" during this encounter, and admitted drinking five beers and at least one mixed drink that night.
Mr. Doheny registered 0.096 percent blood alcohol content during a field test. State law recognizes 0.08 percent BAC as the threshold for intoxication.
The candidate said that the second charge was "a true wake-up call," and that he has not driven any boat after drinking alcohol in the past six years.
"Certainly part of growing and becoming a better person and a better man is learning from your mistakes and, not wanting to be disappointed in yourself, to take regret and turn it into something positive," he said. "That's a big piece of leadership, I think."
CIVIL COURT CASES
Both Mr. Owens and Mr. Doheny have been defendants in civil lawsuits. Mr. Hoffman, through a spokesman, said he has never been a defendant in a civil suit.
Mr. Owens was director of Champlain Enterprises, the parent company of Commutair, and was sued nine years ago by two members of the company's employee stockholder plan.
Clay Schroers, Mr. Owens's campaign spokesman, said he later was removed as a defendant.
The congressman was sued recently in a Vermont small claims court over a dispute in payment to an architect. The case was dismissed, Mr. Schroers said.
Mr. Doheny in April 2006 was sued by a contractor who alleged that the candidate underpaid him for improvements to his island home.
Mr. Doheny moved for the case to be dismissed, according to paperwork supplied by the campaign. A Jefferson County judge granted that dismissal eight months later.
Mr. Doheny was sued twice, in 2000 and 2005, for failing to pay rent on time for separate New York City apartments.
He said he was overseas in at least one of the instances and did not see any notice before the petition was filed in court. In both instances, he said, the rent was paid the next day.
"These are just honest-to-goodness mistakes," he said. "I used to travel quite extensively and work nonstop. I can pay my rent."