John Sullivan Seeks Alcohol Treatment

Friday, May 29th 2009, 5:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Congressman John Sullivan checked himself into the Betty Ford Center in California to treat an alcohol addiction Thursday night.

"To ensure my success in this fight, I've decided to take a temporary leave of absence from Congress," he said in a statement. "I value my relationship with the citizens of Oklahoma's First Congressional District, whom I am privileged and honored to have served for the past eight years. So, I wanted to be open and honest on this tough situation.

"I ask for your continued support and prayers as I face the challenges that lay ahead. I look forward to returning to serve and work for you in the House of Representatives as soon as possible.

"My family is going through a difficult time right now and I ask that you respect their privacy and keep us in your thoughts and prayers. With God's help and strength, I will get through this most challenging time in my life."

In a statement, Congressman Dan Boren said: "(Wife) Andrea and I send our prayers to John and his family. He has our unconditional support. We wish him a healthy recovery, and we will welcome him upon his return to service."

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Muskogee) also sent the Sullivan his best.

A 44-year-old Republican, Sullivan has been a U.S. representative since 2002. He grew up in Tulsa, went to Bishop Kelley High School and eventually represented the city in the state House.

Sullivan's been on the ballot as a candidate for Congress five times. Each time he's won handily.

But Sullivan took his share of knocks during the campaigns. In 2004, challenger Doug Dodd brought up Sullivan's arrest record. That launched a flurry of ads.

Sullivan admitted to being arrested for public intoxication when he was 20.

But the charges reared their head again in Sullivan's contentious race last year with Georgianna Oliver. The claims mostly lit up the airwaves and never seemed to hold Sullivan back politically.

Sullivan has fought for less taxes and tighter controls on immigration, but he's also made the fight against alcoholism one of his causes.

He went back to his alma mater to talk to high schoolers about the dangers of drinking, and he serves as a co-chairman on the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus.

But now that he's gone from caucusing to seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, no one knows for sure what the political fallout will be.

It is unknown when Sullivan will return from his leave of absence. A spokesman at the Betty Ford Clinic said the most common length of stay for a first-time inpatient treatment is 30 days.               

Until Sullivan returns, Oklahoma's delegation is short one vote.