Sen. John McGee, more accustomed to wearing a suit and tie when appearing before a camera, wore a suit of a different variety on June 20. The four-term state senator donned a standard-issue jumpsuit, courtesy of Ada County and appeared via video from the jail for arraignment on charges of misdemeanor DUI and felony operating a vehicle without the owner's consent. Sitting at the Ada County Courthouse, members of McGee's family looked on somberly.
McGee sat silently as his lawyer, Scott McKay, stressed that the bizarre events of the previous 24 hours were "out of character" for the Majority Caucus leader. In the early morning hours of June 19, Ada County Sheriff's deputies said they found McGee passed out in the backseat of a stranger's Ford Excursion after jack-knifing the vehicle, which was towing a 20-foot trailer, in the driveway of a residence on Knapp Way in Meridian. Police said McGee had been drinking at a Boise golf course. Lawmen said it was unclear exactly how McGee got behind the wheel of a stranger's vehicle. Prosecutors said damages to the SUV topped $2,000.
Police said the 38-year-old senator's blood alcohol content was measured at .15, nearly double the legal driving limit of .08. McGee was taken into custody shortly before 5 a.m. and spent the remainder of Father's Day in Ada County Jail.
During McGee's arraignment, McKay chronicled the accomplishments and "outstanding community service" of the senator, noting McGee's current position as marketing director for West Valley Medical Center and his work with such organizations as the United Way of Treasure Valley, the Caldwell Rotary Club and the College of Idaho, where he serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees. First elected to the State Senate in 2004, McGee represents the citizens of Caldwell, Greenleaf and Wilder in District 10. He sits on three senate committees: Local Government and Taxation, State Affairs and Transportation.
Pointing to the presence of family and friends in the courtroom, McKay also took time to praise McGee's family and its connections to the Treasure Valley.
McKay pleaded with Magistrate Kevin Swain to set a bond no higher than $1,000. But McGee's accomplishments aside, Swain agreed with prosecutors, ruling "the seriousness" of the charges could "not be ignored." Bond was set at $5,000, which McGee posted later that afternoon.
During the arraignment, McKay said there was "still a lot to be investigated about this case," noting "possible health concerns" would be brought up in future proceedings.
McKay's preliminary hearing in Ada County Court is scheduled for Friday, July 1. To avoid any possible conflict of interest, the Malheur County District Attorney's Office will handle the prosecution.