By Esme Murphy

DES MOINES, Iowa (WCCO) — A staffer for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was arrested in Iowa Wednesday morning for public intoxication and trespassing.

Ben Foster, 24, was found on the back doorstep of a home in Ankeny early Wednesday.

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He was discovered behind the home when a 15-year-old girl inside heard her dog barking. She went to investigate.

“His arm was in my back door, trying to get in and I screamed and went upstairs to my parents’ room and I continued screaming,” Chloe Steward told KCCI.

Chloe’s father got his gun and her mom called 911. Stacy Steward said the man appeared very drunk.

“The guy was still trying to come in and my husband had gun on him,” she said.

The Steward family said that, in addition to scaring their daughter, Foster also vomited in their backyard.

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Police came and arrested Foster and booked him into Polk County Jail pending public intoxication and trespassing charges. He was released a few hours later on $600 bail.

Foster had been a member of the exploratory committee for Tim Pawlenty’s 2012 presidential bid.

“Pawlenty is extremely disappointed in Ben’s actions and his behavior does not meet the standards he expects of his employees,” read a statement released by the exploratory committee.

Foster was placed on a two-week unpaid suspension by the committee.

He issued a statement apologizing for the incident, saying “I made a very serious mistake. I take full responsibility for my actions. I want to apologize to all affected by my poor judgment. I especially apologize to the people who were disturbed during the incident and the arresting officers. I give my word that it will never happen again.”

Prof. Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey Institute said the incident presents a distraction for a campaign that is trying to gain some traction.

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“First Michele Bachmann jumps out of nowhere and steals his thunder and now his staffer is going ‘Animal House’ on him,” he said.

Esme Murphy