PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Rhode Island lawmakers are reacting to the news of one of their own being charged with drug possession and driving under the influence .
House Minority Leader Robert Watson (R-East Greenwich-West Greenwich) was arrested Friday after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint in East Haven, Conn.
According to a police report , he was charged with operation while under the influence; possession of drug paraphernalia, a wood marijuana pipe; and possession of a controlled substance, less than four ounces of marijuana.
Rep. Watson tells Eyewitness News that he was a safe and sober driver.
"While confident I was a safe and sober operator, trace evidence of marijuana was discovered and I was charged with operating under the influence, a charge I vehemently deny," Watson said in his statement.
Local lawmakers reacted to the news on Monday.
"I have served with Minority Leader Watson in the House for the past 19 years and I consider him a friend. I am unfamiliar with the details that transpired, but I spoke with Bob today and I offered him my support during this difficult time," said Speaker Gordon D. Fox.
A statement released by Governor Lincoln Chafee's office said:
Governor Chafee believes the incident in Connecticut involving Representative Robert Watson is very unfortunate. However, the Governor also recognizes that Representative Watson is entitled to due process.
The Guatemalan American-Alliance and the Immigrants in Action Committee are asking Rep. Watson to step down.
"What happen to Rep. Watson is unfortunate and I wish him well as this situation is not only hurting him but also his family, on the political front Representative Watson has to do the right thing and leave the Minority Leadership post for the good of his party, however I do not think Rep. Watson should resign from his representative seat and his constituents should decide that during the next election. I do wish him the best. No one is perfect," said David A. Quiroa.
Providence's Guatemalan community became angry in February over comments he made in a speech to the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce -- questioning the priorities of the General Assembly.
Rep. Watson has called a caucus of his fellow House Republicans Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the House Minority Office at the Statehouse to personally explain what happened.
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