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Police: North Dakota tax commissioner taken to jail to detox

November 16, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger was jailed for detoxification Monday after Bismarck police responded to a disturbance at a local hotel and found that Rauschenberger was too drunk to take care of himself, authorities said.

Rauschenberger, 38, who has a history of alcohol issues, was waiting to check into a clean room when he entered a room that wasn’t cleaned. He shut the door and refused to answer cleaning staff, police said.

Officer Brandon Rosen said in his report that he eventually “found Ryan passed out, face down on the bed.” The officer wrote that Rauschenberger was “intoxicated beyond the point of being able to take care of himself” and he was brought in for detoxification at 1:31 p.m.

Rauschenberger was not arrested, The Bismarck Tribune reported. “What he’s in for is not a criminal offense,” Lt. Luke Gardiner said.

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Rauschenberger did not immediately respond to a message left on his cellphone.

Rauschenberger, a Republican, has been tax commissioner for the past seven years. His alcohol problems first came to light in 2014 when he took a leave of absence to complete a 20-day inpatient treatment program in Minnesota. That came after he loaned his vehicle to a man he met while undergoing substance treatment and the man crashed it while driving drunk.

Rauschenberger was arrested on a drunken driving charge in September 2017, when a preliminary breath test indicated his blood alcohol content was 0.208%, more than twice the legal limit for driving. As part of his guilty plea, he completed a recommended outpatient treatment program in March 2018.

Court documents show Rauschenberger pleaded guilty three months ago in Bismarck Municipal Court to driving with an open container of alcohol in his vehicle and paid a $100 fine. The police citation shows he was stopped at 1:22 a.m. on Aug. 1.

Rauschenberger was appointed to tax commissioner at the end of 2013 to fill a vacancy after a resignation. The Republican won a full term in 2014, beating Democrat Jason Astrup with 57% of the vote. He won reelection in 2018, defeating Democrat Kylie Oversen with 61% of the vote. He is up for reelection next year.