IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A staffer for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s presidential exploratory committee has resigned after being charged with trespassing and public intoxication after trying to enter a suburban Des Moines home earlier this month, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Benjamin Limbaugh Foster submitted his resignation Saturday and it was accepted, Pawlenty consultant Eric Woolson told The Associated Press.
The committee had suspended the 24-year-old for two weeks without pay following his arrest early April 6. Woolson said Foster spent more time thinking about his actions and offered to resign after “recognizing the seriousness of the mistake.” Foster already had issued a statement apologizing to the family involved and the arresting officers for poor judgment.
Authorities say a family in Ankeny called 911 to report a prowler in their backyard at 3:11 a.m. A teenage girl who lives in the home said she woke up because her dog was barking, and then saw Foster on their back deck, according to a police report. Foster reached his arm inside a partially opened backdoor and smiled at the girl, who ran upstairs to tell her parents, the report said. Foster failed to get inside because of a door stopper, and the girl’s father grabbed his gun from a safe and held Foster at gunpoint until police arrived.
Foster, who threw up on the family’s back deck, told police he had been drinking at a Des Moines bar and ended up at the residence after getting lost on the way to the home where he was staying with a state lawmaker about 10 miles away. The report says at first he said he had driven to the area. But then he said he had taken a cab and the driver must have gotten confused. His personal vehicle was found illegally parked at the end of the family’s street and was towed.
Online court records show Foster pleaded not guilty to the charges last week. Woolson said he did not know Foster’s whereabouts, and he could not immediately be reached by AP for comment. His attorney, James A. Sinclair of West Des Moines, did not immediately return a phone message.
Foster had been living with state Rep. Erik Helland, who posted a $600 cash bond for Foster following the arrest, records show.
Foster, an Alabama native who graduated from the University of Alabama in 2009, was hired by Pawlenty last year and was his first full-time staff member in Iowa. The most recent disclosure report for Pawlenty’s political action committee, Freedom First, shows Foster was paid more than $6,000 in December for “political strategy consulting” and travel. Pawlenty’s related Iowa committee reported paying Foster more than $8,200 for work and travel in October and November.
The aide’s legal troubles come just as Pawlenty tries to introduce himself to Republicans in Iowa, where he says he must do well in the first-in-the-nation caucuses next year to be a viable presidential candidate.
Woolson downplayed Foster’s significance, calling him “a young man who made a mistake.”
“I don’t think it’s anything more than that,” he said.
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