Cunningham apologizes for his top aide - Tucson News Now

Cunningham's top aide arrested

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Ward 2 Councilman Paul Cunningham's top aide was arrested and charged for obstructing a highway.

Councilman Paul Cunningham released a statement to Tucson News Now tonight, saying his Chief of Staff, Mary Catherine Bolger, used "poor judgement" that night.

Tucson News Now requested the police report that explains how Mary Catherine Bolger stepped out in front of a police car while walking home on Speedway and 5th Avenue on March 22.

Police reports state a police officer was driving down Speedway when he had to slam on his brakes and use what police call an "evasive maneuver", to avoid hitting a pedestrian, who was jaywalking across the street. 

Police reports state Bolger refused to obey his commands and appeared to ball up her fists and get in a fighting position.

Police reports state she became " extremely verbally abusive," and said "Do you know who I am?  I am Council Member Paul Cunningham's chief of staff."  "It takes four police cars to stop a jaywalker, no wonder you guys don't respond to burglaries, and this is why you guys need more cops...for a <expletive> jaywalker?"

Police say Mary Catherine Bolger's speech was slurry, eyes blood shot and they could smell intoxicants on her breath.  Reports state she became "verbally abusive" when they tried to get her off the street.. insulting police officers .. saying "I work for councilman Cunningham." "It takes four police cars to respond to a jaywalker.

She also told police they were in trouble and told them to contact the Chief of Police and the Councilman.

In a statement released to us tonight, Councilman Paul Cunningham stated, "She used poor judgement with regards to her statements. We have a well trained and professional police department, these issues are sensitive and we will handle the situation within our office appropriately."

Just last year Cunningham's behavior was called into question when he admitted to becoming drunk during a city funded business trip to San Diego. Witnesses say he used inappropriate and suggestive language in front of several prominent business leaders and high ranking city officials.

Cunningham told Tucson News Now tonight that he is still attending AA meetings and has not had a drink since last May.

His behavior highlighted the fact that there is currently no code of conduct for elected officials and their staff. Can elected officials get by with anything?  Can taxpayers have expectations of how they should behave?  We talked to city attorney Mike Rankin who is working on creating that code of conduct.

"That would cover things like conflicts of interest, rules relating to gifts, open meeting laws, public record laws. City Attorney Mike Rankin said. "[It's] also a general statement about professional conduct and acting with integrity."

City officials say even with this code of conduct it would be up to council members to discipline their own staff.  Rankin hoped to present the code of conduct to city council by early summer.

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