NYS Assembly Minority Leader resigns following DWI arrest

1010 WINS Newsroom
January 03, 2020 - 5:59 pm

This undated photo provided by the Ontario County Sheriff's office shows Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb. The top Republican in the New York State Assembly, was charged Dec. 31, 2019, New Year's Eve with driving while intoxicated in his state-issued vehicle, just a week after he wrote a newspaper column warning citizens against getting behind the wheel drunk. (Ontario County Sheriff's Office via AP) .


VICTOR, N.Y. (1010 WINS) — New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said on Friday he is resigning from his leadership post and "seeking professional help," following his arrest on New Year's Eve for driving while intoxicated in his state-issued vehicle.

The arrest came just a week after he wrote a newspaper column warning citizens against getting behind the wheel drunk.

Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua who represents a district just outside Rochester, was arrested near his home after what he called a “lapse in judgment."

In his statement Friday, he said, "I have a profound respect for each and every one of my colleagues, and sincerely admire their daily efforts on behalf of constituents and communities in every corner of the state. But I will not allow my own personal challenges to distract from the goals, message, and mission of the Assembly Minority conference. With a new year and new legislative session ahead, the work of our conference cannot be undermined or deterred in any way."

He continued, "I will be forever grateful for the confidence my colleagues have placed in me for the past 10 years. But in my heart, I know that this is the right time for a new leader to step in and advance an agenda that benefits all New Yorkers. The events of December 31 are ones I will always deeply regret. On a personal level, I have begun the process of seeking professional help in order to heal, learn, and fully address the challenges that I, along with my family, currently face.”

Authorities had said they were called to a crash in Victor just before 10:30 p.m. after a vehicle ran into a ditch. Kolb was found to be the driver of the 2018 GMC Acadia that crashed in front of his home.

An Ontario County sheriff's deputy administered field sobriety tests, which Kolb failed, before taking him to jail.

While there, a breath test indicated Kolb's blood-alcohol content was over 0.08%, authorities said. The legal limit for driving in New York is 0.08%.

No one else was injured. Officials did not say where Kolb was driving from.

Kolb said there was no excuse.

“This was a terrible lapse in judgment, one I have urged others not to make, and I take full responsibility for it," the assemblyman said in a brief written statement.

“I made the wrong decision, and it is one I deeply regret," he said.

Kolb has represented the district since 2000 and has served as Assembly minority leader since 2009. The district covers all of Ontario County and a portion of Seneca County. In 2018, Kolb briefly campaigned to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo before dropping out of the race.

On Christmas Eve, Kolb wrote a column in the upstate Daily Messenger newspaper that warned against people driving while under the influence of alcohol during the holidays, and acknowledged December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.

“Many of our holiday traditions, especially our New Year’s Eve celebrations, involve indulging in spirits," he wrote. “Done safely, and in moderation, these can be wonderful holiday experiences. However, tragedy can be only one bad decision away."

News of Kolb's arrest led fellow Republican Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor to call for him to step down.

Kolb “should step down as Assembly Minority Leader," Lalor tweeted. “That he hasn’t done so already is a disgrace."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.