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Port: Former candidate for NDGOP chair charged with felony DUI after crash

"Robert [Wheeler] pushed officers as we tried to restrain him, and he held onto the vehicle so we could not remove him from it," a sheriff's deputy wrote in an affidavit supporting the charges. "We struggled with him but also did not want to hurt him further."

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MINOT, N.D. — Robert Howard Wheeler, who campaigned to be chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party last year and lost , is facing a felony DUI charge after an ATV crash that injured his wife and himself.

According to an affidavit filed in McLean County District Court Tuesday morning, Feb. 1, by Sheriff's Deputy Bradley M. Nielsen, Wheeler was initially charged with a misdemeanor DUI, but that was elevated to a felony after more information about the extent Holly Wheeler's injuries were obtained.

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In addition to the felony charge, Wheeler is also facing misdemeanor charges of preventing arrest and disorderly conduct.

According to Nielsen's affidavit, Wheeler on Monday, Jan. 31, was driving a black CanAm ATV south of Highway 200 and was involved in a rollover accident. Both he and Holly Wheeler were ejected from the vehicle.

When Nielsen arrived on the scene, Robert Wheeler was sitting in what was apparently the private vehicle of an emergency medical technician. Nielsen described Wheeler as "intoxicated" and "belligerent." The EMT official had a young child in their car, and when Wheeler was asked to get out because of his behavior, he refused, according to Nielsen's report.

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Later, when Wheeler was informed that he was to be placed under arrest, he resisted "and had to be physically removed from the vehicle," Nielsen wrote.

"Robert pushed officers as we tried to restrain him, and he held onto the vehicle so we could not remove him from it," Nielsen wrote. "We struggled with him but also did not want to hurt him further."

According to the affidavit, when Wheeler was tested at Garrison Memorial Hospital, more than an hour and a half after Nielsen was dispatched to the accident, his blood-alcohol level was 0.166.

EMBED: Bob Wheeler Facebook photo
A screenshot of NDGOP chairman candidate Bob Wheeler's Facebook profile picture
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Wheeler is set to have a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. central time today, Feb. 1. McClean County State's Attorney Ladd Erickson declined to comment, saying the affidavit filed with the court speaks for itself.

Wheeler is a prolific anti-vaccination and pro-Trump activist on Facebook. He has been an outspoken supporter of the Bastiat Caucus faction that has been trying, unsuccessfully, to take over the North Dakota Republican Party.

As I wrote earlier today, the faction lost more ground in recent NDGOP reorganization meetings, and a resolution proposed in one district to remove Perrie Schafer as state party chair failed .

Wheeler also ran for the Legislature in 2020. He sought the NDGOP nomination for the House of Representatives but was defeated, coming in last in a four-way race .

In the race for NDGOP chairman, Wheeler was defeated in June by current chairman Schafer in a 35-19 vote of the party's state committee.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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