Can Mesa councilman Winkle offer cash to stop DUI disciplinary hearing?

Mesa councilman Ryan Winkle offers the city cash to stop DUI disciplinary hearing and keep his job.

MESA, Ariz. - Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle is offering to pay $2,000, accept a censure and agree to stop drinking for the remainder of his term in office.

In exchange, Winkle wants the city council to stop a disciplinary process that could remove him from office as punishment for his arrest for extreme DUI.

Winkle already pleaded guilty to extreme DUI in a traffic stop caught on Tempe police officers' body cameras. It shows Winkle failing a DUI test and Winkle's wife attempting to convince and, at one point, threaten the officers to let Winkle go because he's an elected official.

In a letter to the City of Mesa, Winkle's attorney called the $2,000 a fine, one that would be paid to either the Mesa general fund or a charity of their choosing.

But can Winkle legally offer up money in exchange for his job?

Russ Richelsoph, an attorney with Davis Miles, said it would probably be legal because the letter did not go to specific council members. Instead, the money would be either a donation, or would benefit the city as a whole.

"They're offering something that's like a plea agreement," Richelsoph said. "'Here's what we're willing to do to stop this proceeding.'"

The Mesa City Council hearing to determine a punishment for Winkle is scheduled for Thursday. A city spokesman said any settlement offer like the one Winkle is proposing would have to be considered by the city council during that hearing.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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