When Republican state Senator Andrew Brenner of Ohio attended a May 3 meeting of the Ohio Controlling Board virtually, something was comically amiss on his Zoom screen.
Brenner, while initially giving the meeting his undivided attention, later became very distracted while he was in his home office.
But looking even a little bit closer showed he was wearing a seatbelt and his "office" appeared to be slightly moving around him.
You can see video here:
State Sen. Andrew Brenner was wearing a seatbelt and appeared to be driving during today's Ohio Controlling Board v… https://t.co/Q94sCEm4Qq— Andrew Tobias (@Andrew Tobias)1620065885.0
Brenner told The Columbus Dispatch he wasn't guilty of distracted driving because he "wasn't distracted."
"I was paying attention to the driving and listening to [the meeting]."
"I had two meetings that were back to back that were in separate locations.
"And I've actually been on other calls, numerous calls, while driving."
"Phone calls for the most part but on video calls, I'm not paying attention to the video."
"To me, it's like a phone call."
During the 13-minute meeting of the Ohio Controlling Board on Monday, Brenner could be seen adjusting his phone and turning his camera on and off as he drove with the office background displayed.On the same day as the Ohio Controlling Board meeting, Ohio House Republicans introduced House Bill 283. The bill would
increase and expand Ohio's existing prohibition against distracted driving and using electronic devices while driving.
The irony wasn't lost on people.
Do we "gotta hand it to him" for wearing the seatbelt?— Brody Logan (@Brody Logan)1620306928.0
@BFPierceHawk @BrodyLogan Derp— NM (@NM)1620354440.0
@bluestatedon @BrodyLogan That is the only principle of conservatives. https://t.co/DRVb7UCAnb— T Karney (@T Karney)1620316836.0
Brenner's actions, which would be in direct violation of the updated GOP proposed distracted driving law, drew the ire of folks across the internet for hypocrisy.
@beckyonLakeErie @BrodyLogan Because Ohio is just North Florida— GreyHulk (@GreyHulk)1620305137.0
@beckyonLakeErie @BrodyLogan Because state legislature is so gerrymandered the worst people get elected.— business drunk (@business drunk)1620306753.0
Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-OH) belongs to the crooked side of the state house of reps. These are the folks who took $60… https://t.co/WnSfHr6Dpc— Positively 4Th Street (@Positively 4Th Street)1620324659.0
Ohio Republicans: Laws for thee but not for me. Ohio’s Senate is currently considering steeper penalties that woul… https://t.co/fOUZBJncFE— Kaz Weida (@Kaz Weida)1620317141.0
This also begged another question.
If he wasn't doing anything wrong, then why was he trying to conceal the fact he was driving by putting up a false background of his home office?
Surely nobody would have taken umbrage if he simply turned off his video and treated the video call as a phone call, as he claimed to be doing.
An Ohio State senator participated in a ZOOM call while driving. He tried (and failed) to obscure that fact by usin… https://t.co/BFzvaenGe5— Mediaite (@Mediaite)1620381601.0
Ohio State Senator Andrew Brenner regularly uses a zoom background of his home office while driving... then says s… https://t.co/WURDncrbdA— Kougar (@Kougar)1620339159.0
At least one reporter and news outlet confused and combined the two events—Brenner's Zoom call and the introduction of the distracted driving bill by the GOP.
They claimed Brenner was debating the distracted driving bill during his drive, but that is false.
✅ Yes, Ohio State Sen. Andrew Brenner used an office background while driving during a Zoom meeting.... ❌ But the… https://t.co/zcf3YSXHSS— snopes.com (@snopes.com)1620334647.0
The committee Brenner was participating in "provides legislative oversight of statewide spending, procurement and investment in Ohio." Distracted driving would not fall under their purview.
At one point during the video, Brenner looks directly at the screen while continuing to drive. He even un-mutes himself in order to participate in a vote.
So will Brenner face any consequences from his party since they're calling for harsher penalties for distracted driving that specifically prohibit Brenner's actions?
We won't hold our breath.