Officials with the Urbandale Police Department have released the video of a traffic stop involving the woman who, at the time, was serving as the spokesperson for Joni Ernst’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. Gretchen Hamel is seen sitting in a seat, talking with the policeman who pulled her over. “I’m here working on a campaign currently,” Hamel said. The officer asked: “For who?” and Hamel did not give Ernst’s name and merely said she was working “for a political candidate here in Iowa.” The officer said: “So obviously an OWI would get you fired.”
Hamel told the officer she was a passenger in the vehicle and someone else had been driving when the car hit a pole. The officer suggested video from a nearby intersection could be checked and he asked Hamel how many people would be seen in the car at that tim “Probably two,” Hamel said. The officer said: “Probably, huh? Not: ‘They should show two’ or ‘They will show two’ but ‘probably (two).'” At this point Hamel concedes: “O.K. They may show one.” After a long pause, she adds: “They may show two.” The officer then gets Hamel to admit she had been driving the car.
“Here’s the thing — all I want’s the truth from you, O.K? Right now, I’m leaning towards not charging you with OWI, OK? Not because I don’t believe you were driving because I know for a fact that you were driving, but because I really don’t necessarily think that you need to be fired from your job for this,” the cop said. “That being said, you were the driver, correct?” Hamel then admitted she was the driver. “I was pulling over,” she said. The officer continued: “You were pulling over because thought maybe you’d been drinking too much and you didn’t see the poles there.” Hamel replied, “Yes.”
A breath test showed Hamel’s blood alcohol level was point-16 (0.16). That’s two times over the legal limit. She was not charged with drunken driving for this October 3rd incident. Hamel was charged with reckless driving and her car, which was decorated with Ernst campaign stickers, was towed. Nearly four weeks later, on October 29th, Hamel was arrested in West Des Moines and charged with operating while intoxicated. She resigned from the Ernst campaign the following morning.