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Committee head promises Rep. Jeff Wood a chance to defend himself

The head of a new state committee promises to give Rep. Jeff Wood a chance to defend himself, before it makes a recommendation on whether he should be expelled.

Rep. Mary Hubler, D-Rice Lake, is a chairing a six-member panel appointed yesterday to consider a resolution to expel Wood.

That's after the Chippewa Falls Independent was arrested three times in the last year for driving while intoxicated, the last two times while under anti-anxiety medications.

Wood's latest arrest came a week ago in Tomah, while on a day-pass from a treatment program at the VA Hospital.

He says he'll enter a more stringent program this week at a veterans' clinic in St. Cloud, Minn.

It'll last 30-45 days, and Hubler says she'll wait until it's over before giving Wood his hearing.

Another panel member, Tony Staskunas, D-West Allis, says the committee should think about getting a day-pass for Wood so he can testify.

But Wood says those passes won't be allowed and he won't even be able to see his family except on Sundays for lunch at the treatment site.

Hubler says she might try to get law enforcement and prosecutors to testify at Wood's expulsion hearings - but they might not want to do so, for fear of jeopardizing his three pending court cases.

In any event, Hubler says she wants to act carefully. Only one state legislator has ever been expelled - Sen. Frank Reguse of Milwaukee in 1917 for making comments considered disloyal to the U.S. during World War I.

Wood says he won't seek re-election next year, but he won't step down in the meantime.