Lawmaker Apologizes to House for 'Wet-Bagging' Incidents | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Lawmaker Apologizes to House for 'Wet-Bagging' Incidents


Published June 17, 2024 at 11:41 a.m.

Rep. Mary Morrissey apologizing to colleagues on Monday - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Rep. Mary Morrissey apologizing to colleagues on Monday
Updated on June 19, 2024.

A Republican Vermont lawmaker apologized on Monday to a Democratic colleague for repeatedly pouring water into his tote bag.

Fallout from the strange incidents spilled onto the floor of the House of Representatives at the start of the veto session, when Rep. Mary Morrissey (R-Bennington) rose to her feet. She apologized to Rep. Jim Carroll (D-Bennington) for what she called her “disrespectful conduct.”

“I am truly ashamed of my actions,” Morrissey said in a halting voice to a hushed House.
A screenshot from a video provided by Rep. Jim Carroll - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • A screenshot from a video provided by Rep. Jim Carroll
Morrissey was caught on video pouring cups of water into Carroll’s canvas tote bag as it hung outside a committee room. As first reported by Seven Days, Carroll used a spy camera mounted in the hallway to find out how his bag was getting wet almots daily.

Two videos, which Carroll released after Seven Days requested them under the Public Records Act, clearly showed Morrissey dousing his bag with a cup of liquid on April 23 and 26.
Morrissey said she had apologized to Carroll personally and publicly and that she planned to make amends through the Ethics Committee process.

"It was conduct most unbecoming of my position as a representative and as a human being and is not reflective of my 28 years of service,” she said.

  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Rep. Jim Carroll
Carroll said that while he heard the sincerity in her voice, he was sad that Morrissey hadn’t come forward before the videos caught her in the act. But he said he was willing to sit down with Morrissey, as awkward as it will be, to try to resolve their differences. “We have to start somewhere,” he said.

What motivated Morrissey remains unclear. She has claimed to have no idea why she did it. Carroll has said Morrissey also verbally harassed him on several occasions.

This included chastising him for voting in favor of enshrining the right to an abortion in the Vermont Constitution, telling him that his deceased parents "would be ashamed" of him. Morrissey’s legislative biography indicates that she is a Roman Catholic.

Carroll also told Seven Days that, after he returned to the legislature from a stint in rehab following his arrest for driving under the influence, he overheard Morrissey, who sits one row behind him, tell colleagues: “He looks soused to me!”

A summary of the incidents written by Capitol Police Chief John Poleway says the videos could indicate that Morrissey committed the crime of stalking. That's defined as "two or more acts" that "would cause a reasonable person emotional distress." Poleway said that Carroll chose not to press charges.

The situation was the basis for a question last week on the nationally syndicated radio news quiz program “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!” Peter Sagal jokingly described the incident as a case of “wet-bagging.”

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