Having been to conventions and hospitality suites, the story sounds entirely plausible.
The most recent incident occurred during the state Democratic Party’s 2015 convention, held at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee. It is common on the first night of these political conventions for candidates to host “hospitality suites,” where attendees mingle while alcohol flows freely. It is well-known in political circles that the open bars in the suites are magnets for drinking and late-night partying.
It was around midnight when things started to go off the rails. DPW staff were alerted through their headsets that Zepnick and then-state Rep. Mandela Barnes, D-Milwaukee, were having a heated argument in U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s hospitality suite.
A Barnes aide and a DPW staff member stepped in with the goal of preventing the disagreement from escalating into a public disturbance. Their approach was to separate the two lawmakers and keep an eye on them until they calmed down.
The DPW staffer was annoyed. Zepnick was “clearly drunk,” and she spent the next hour listening to him and trying to “talk him down.” It was late, she remembers, and she was thinking about how early she had to be up the next morning. He told her how much he had liked her ex-boyfriend, she said, and asked who she was currently dating. She was uncomfortable, but was used to boorish behavior in politics.
She moved him away from security guards with the goal of getting him to an exit. A former co-worker said she saw the woman and Zepnick talking, and she looked nervous or stressed. Unsure of whether she should stay or leave, the co-worker left after briefly speaking with the DPW staffer.
“We’re in the hotel lobby and he’s just, kind of like drunk people just retell the same story over and over, he keeps telling me he’s not going to drive drunk,” the woman said. “But we’re standing in the lobby and he gives me a hug and then he kisses me, and I just turn my head and I’m like, ‘What the f—?’ And he’s so gross, and I’m upset.”
But while sounding plausible, the woman refuses to identify herself, doesn’t want to file charges, and didn’t complain at the time. It sounds like Zepnick might be a pig when he’s drunk, but everyone around him seems to tolerate it. Even in this story, the accuser says she was “used to boorish behavior in politics.” How pathetic is that that such boorish behavior is tolerated? Perhaps this is an issue where less coexistence at the time would end the behavior rather quickly.