It was well known, even before Tim Pawlenty hired him to manage his presidential campaign, that Nick Ayers was pulled over and arrested for DWI in 2006.
What hasn't been available for the public to view, until now, is the dash cam video of that arrest. In light of Ayers' position as the head of Pawlenty's presidential campaign, City Pages made a public information request to obtain the footage from Georgia authorities. It arrived on VHS tape Monday. We then paid a local company to convert it into a file that could be uploaded to the Internet.
What follows is the video of Ayers failing the DWI test, as well as his classless ride to the station during which he talks up his political connections and his abiding respect for law-enforcement.[jump]
Back in the fall of 2006, Ayers, then only 24, was running the reelection campaign of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.
On October 25, just days before the election, Trooper First Class J.W. Rickett of the Georgia State Patrol saw Ayers' Chevy Tahoe weaving and doing 50 in a 35-mph zone. Rickett followed the truck, which turned into a parking lot, sped up, and nearly hit another vehicle in an apparent effort to hide.
As the dash-cam video of the incident shows, Ayers' first words to Rickett are: "We're with Governor Perdue's campaign headquarters."
Ayers claims he's only had one Jack Daniels and Diet Coke, but Rickett's report states he smelled strongly of alcohol.
Ayers' association with the governor apparently doesn't impress the trooper, who puts him through a field sobriety test, which he fails.
Ayers then refuses to take a breath test, so he's arrested and put in handcuffs.
Here's video of Ayers failing the test and getting cuffed. It's hard to tell on the tape, but the police report states Ayers was weeping.
Next: Nick Ayers tries to sweet talk the officer
On the way to being booked at the Atlanta Jail, Ayers does his best to sweet-talk the officer.
"I know this is probably an unusual comment, but I actually am a, uh -- and let me preface this by saying that I recognize that what you're doing is totally your job -- but I have a ton of respect for the state patrol and I think you guys are the most organized and effective law enforcement organization in the state. I say that with the total understanding that what you're doing is totally within the law and I'm not asking nor expecting you to change anything that you're doing. I don't even expect a comment from you. But I just want to say that I'm a huge fan of the state patrol, have been for the last five years, as I understand more of what y'all have done."
Ayers then tries to steer the conversation towards politics, but Rickett won't bite.
Eventually he asks Ayers, "What is it exactly that you do now?"
"I'm the Governor's campaign manager," Ayers answers. "The buggy part of this, Officer Rickett, is if I were just an average guy, I would have no problem complying with everything you've asked for. But so many times these days you just see so much about guys getting set up, and you just don't know what's going on."
As he gets closer to jail, Ayers becomes more anxious:
"Officer Rickett, I've just got one ask," he says. "I may have made a personal bad decision tonight in having one drink and getting in the car and driving, but I just ask that, you know, we let the court hear it out and that this not become a political issue prior to the time it's heard by the courts. My boss is a great guy, and I only wish to live up to the standards to which he lives. And that's the only thing I ask for your consideration. I know other folks would love to make a big issue out of this. Frankly I don't think I've done anything wrong, but I know they'd love to make an issue out of it."
Rickett replies he won't treat Ayers differently than any other DWI arrest.
But as the cruiser pulls in to the jail, Rickett's radio crackles to life. The Governor's Executive Security detail wants to know if Ricketts had stopped a Tahoe.
At this, Ayers becomes distraught.
"See man, there it goes," Ayers says, and begins pleading with Ricketts, using his first name. "Jamie, all I ask, just bring this down on me, man. Please, bruh. I mean, I'll take the fall before I let Sonny take the fall. I mean, this ain't him."
"I understand," Rickett replies.
"I mean, do you really? Do you understand what they're about to do with this?" asks Ayers, sounding increasingly desperate. "Seriously man, you understand what the other side will try to do with this?"
Next: In the back seat of the squad car, Nick Ayers begs to keep his arrest quiet until after the election [VIDEO] As it turns out, Ayers' arrest did hit the press before the election, but didn't make much of an impact. Perdue handily won reelection.
When Ayers finally went to court, the charges were reduced to reckless driving.
Ayers went on to run the Republican Governor's Association before signing on to manage Pawlenty's campaign.
Here's the video of Ayers in the cruiser. Get ready for some serious smarminess.
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