A new state lawmaker says she's surprised by the "insane amount of drinking" that goes on in the Rhode Island State House. Providence Democratic Rep. Moira Walsh told WPRO-AM Tuesday that lawmakers have "file cabinets full of booze." She described how they recently took shots on the floor of the House of Representatives to celebrate Dominican Republic Independence Day. "It is the drinking that blows my mind," Walsh told the station. "You cannot operate a motor vehicle when you've had two beers, but you can make laws that affect people's lives forever when you're half in the bag? That's outrageous." Walsh took office in January and is known for being blunt, the AP reports. Joking with WPRO's host about the possibility of a police checkpoint outside the legislators' parking lot, Walsh said, "I'm going to be the person who ruined drinking at the State House. They'll love me forever."
Walsh—who was fired from her job as a waitress in January after her employer said her liberal political views hurt the restaurant's reputation—has criticized the state's political culture before, saying that as a low-income single mother, she feels too much is decided at boozy late-night meetings. Legislative leaders late Tuesday sought to dismiss her claims of rampant drinking, with Democratic House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi telling the Providence Journal he has never seen anyone intoxicated on the floor or impaired while voting. But it's not uncommon for Rhode Island legislators to have toasts of alcohol during celebratory occasions. One of the biggest is next week ahead of St. Patrick's Day. (Read more Rhode Island stories.)