DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas - Impaired but not intoxicated. That's the explanation from a Hays County commissioner who was caught on camera urinating in a parking lot.
It’s important to note, no criminal charges have been filed, and even-though an ethics complaint could be made, public urination does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state ethics commission.
The video has been circulating among several people in Dripping Springs for a few weeks. Considering primary voting has started, FOX 7 wanted to give the commissioner a chance to address it.
The video shows a man next to a parked truck behind an open door urinating. The person who recorded the video said the man is Hays County Commissioner Walt Smith. The witness recording the video can be heard saying:
"Oh my god, he is peeing, I’m so nervous."
FOX 7 met with Commissioner Smith and asked if he was the man in the video.
"Yes," said Smith.
Smith did not know the video existed until FOX 7 contacted him. The incident happened in front of a Dripping Springs beer and wine bar on Dec. 31.
The recording started inside, where it appears Smith had trouble walking. FOX 7 asked Smith if he was drunk in the establishment.
"No, sir, I don't. I was not drunk. I was on a brain tumor medication," said Smith.
Smith provided FOX 7 a picture of his bottle of medication. He is taking a drug called cabergoline. Side effects include: nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, constipation, dizziness, lightheadedness, or tiredness.
Smith said the dosage amount has since been reduced because of how it affected him.
"It's not an excuse, it's just an explanation, but I shouldn't have," said Smith.
FOX 7 asked if his unsteady appearance was the result of his medication.
"It is. It's one of the side effects of the medication and sometimes incontinence. I often have to deal with whether or not I'm going to be in that situation, I should have handled it better, I know," said Smith.
In the video, Smith also had trouble leaving the parking lot in his truck. On the video the witness could be heard saying:
"Oh he is going up and over the curb, he is going up and over the curb, and cannot get back."
FOX 7 asked Smith if he acknowledged that getting behind the wheel was the wrong decision.
"I probably should not have gotten behind the wheel. But again, I need to. At the time, I thought my vigilance was good when it came to what the side effects of the medication were. But since that time, I've had to go through a re-evaluation of it," said Smith.
The person who witnessed the incident and provided FOX 7 with the video, asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation.
The witness did provide written statements to questions. Among them, if the video release was done before Early Voting in order to impact Smith's re-election bid. In response the witness wrote:
"Regardless whether it was July 1 or January 1, I would hope that the citizens of Precinct 4 would want to see this."
As to why authorities were not immediately called, the witnessed explained:
"Calling the police did not even cross my mind at the time. Here is a guy urinating in the streets that he maintains, in daylight, on the main downtown district of Dripping Springs. He is 20 feet from the bathroom of the establishment he just left. His actions are concerning, yet I am confident that he would be home by the time police were notified this even happened. He lives just a mile or two down the road."
Smith told FOX 7 he drove to his office, which is about a block away from the bar. FOX 7 asked what he had to say to the people that are considering him as a candidate.
"I think it's sad. It's kind of sad that, you know. I knew when I ran for office that my wife would be under a microscope. I think it's very disheartening that situations like this turn into a political situation or not. One is a neighbor that you could call somebody and ask them what's going on," said Smith.
FOX 7 pointed out that, despite the timing, he is still an elected official. Smith agreed and restated that he was impaired due to his medication, not drunk.
Commissioner Smith is running for a second term in office and only has one challenger in the GOP primary.
Before winning the county job in 2018, his online campaign bio states he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Bush Administration.
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