WASHINGTON - Rep. Patrick Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) says he'd taken a prescription anti-nausea drug that can cause drowsiness, but consumed no alcohol, before crashing his car near the Capitol.
In a statement, Kennedy, D-R.I., said the attending physician for Congress had prescribed Phenergan to treat Kennedy's gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
Louis P. Cannon, president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, who was not on the scene, said the congressman had appeared intoxicated when he crashed his Ford Mustang into a barrier on Capitol Hill.
Cannon said the officers involved in the accident were instructed by an official "above the rank of patrolman" to take Kennedy home and no sobriety tests were conducted at the scene. [Italics mine.(If this were you or me, I can hear those handcuffs clicking on our wrists as I write this...)]
Kennedy said that after working Wednesday evening he went home and took "prescribed" amounts of Phenergan and Ambien, another drug that he sometimes takes to fall asleep.
In his statement, Kennedy said he was apparently disoriented from the drugs when he got up a little before 3 a.m. Thursday and drove to the Capitol thinking he needed to be present for a vote.
"At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol," he said.
A letter written by a Capitol Police officer to Acting Chief Christopher McGaffin said Kennedy appeared to be staggering when he left the vehicle after the crash about 3 a.m. The letter was first reported by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
Kennedy reportedly told the police he was late for a vote, but the final vote of the night had taken place some six hours earlier.
The Capitol Police did not return phone calls for comment.
Kennedy spent time at a drug rehabilitation clinic before he went to Providence College. He has been open about mental health issues, including being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.