February 21, 2024

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is facing scrutiny after footage of a drunken incident went viral on social media. State Rep. Kevin Boyle, a Democrat representing Northeast Philadelphia, finds himself at the center of a law enforcement investigation after he behaved in an unruly manner at a local bar.

On Thursday morning, Rep. Boyle had a drunken outburst at Gaul & Co. Malt House in Rockledge, Pennsylvania, a borough near Philly. The outburst allegedly escalated to the point that Boyle began making threats against female employees. Rockledge Borough Police Chief John Gallagher noted that the lawmaker “was obviously intoxicated and possibly under the influence of drugs.”

The footage shows Boyle threatening to “end this bar,” and to prevent a military service member from getting a promotion. During his bizarre rant, he also referenced “Jewish military intelligence and traitors.”

Boyle’s behavior resulted in him being banned from the establishment; law enforcement is currently looking into the matter.

The officer told Boyle that he was banned from the bar and ordered to leave the area, according to police. He left on foot and was not driving.

Police said no injuries were reported and the staff involved told the officer they did not want to press charges.

“The management team and employees at the Malt House were fully cooperative with the officer when this incident occurred and have continued to be helpful with the Rocklege Police Department as the investigation into this incident continues,” Chief of Police John Gallagher said in a press release. “They have agreed to preserve recording from the bar’s video surveillance system and their personal phones.”

Pennsylvania House Democratic leaders released a statement on Friday night:

We are aware of a video circulating on social media. It is very troubling. Rep. Boyle has been open about his personal challenges. We are encouraged that our colleague and dear friend is seeking help. Our commitment to delivering mental health services does not stop at the Capitol Steps. One of the main reasons we advocate so strongly for mental health access is the reality that challenges can and do happen to anyone, and seeking treatment should be encouraged, not stigmatized.

R. Emmett Madden, Boyle’s attorney, noted that the lawmaker “is not accused of any act of violence,” and that he “intends to follow through with all court, mental health and medical recommendations.”

This raises an obvious question: Would they have this same approach if Boyle had an “R” next to his name?

This incident speaks to a larger issue of how public officials behave in their private lives and whether they will be held accountable. Boyle is alleged to have threatened female employees with physical violence, which is a crime. If the investigation reveals that the allegations are accurate, what will happen to Boyle? Will he face punishment? Will he lose his position as a state lawmaker? Or will he issue a tepid apology and still be backed by his fellow Democrats in the state legislature? If this story unfolds the way I expect, the lawmaker won’t have to face the consequences that most regular folks would.