Vermont Republican secretly poured water into colleague’s bag over months

<span>Vermont state representatives Jim Caroll, a Democrat, and Mary Morrissey, a Republican.</span><span>Photograph: Vermont General Assembly</span>
Vermont state representatives Jim Caroll, a Democrat, and Mary Morrissey, a Republican.Photograph: Vermont General Assembly

A Vermont lawmaker was compelled to apologize publicly after being caught on video pouring water into her colleague’s work bag multiple times across several months.

The bizarre behavior is allegedly a part of a campaign of harassment that one legislator aimed at another who represents the same district in the Green Mountain state, independent outlet Seven Days first reported.

The Republican representative, Mary Morrissey, 67, confessed to dumping water in the bag of the Democratic legislator Jim Carroll, 62. She later apologized during a Vermont state house session on Monday, reported.

“I am truly ashamed of my actions,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

She and Carroll both represent the city of Bennington, about 25 miles outside of Manchester. Morrissey has served 13 terms in the Vermont legislature while Carroll has served two.

Carroll told the Guardian that Morrissey had poured cups of water into his bag since January.

Carroll says he first suspected Morrissey as she had been “nasty” to him for several months despite the two knowing each other since childhood and even attending the same church.

“[She] would say demeaning things in front of other legislators,” Carroll said.

But Carroll had no evidence, so he decided to launch his own investigation. For weeks, Carroll secretly recorded footage of his backpack to catch the person in the act.

In two videos Carroll captured, Morrissey is seen dumping a cup of liquid into Carroll’s green tote bag. Morrissey’s face was not captured in the video, but fellow lawmakers were able to identify her by her gray hair.

Seven Days later used a public records request to obtain footage of Morrissey dumping water into Carroll’s bag. That was after the outlet initially reported on Morrissey’s behavior and an ethics investigation into her.

Carroll initially refused to release the videos to Seven Days but ultimately changed his mind.

“I have been very reluctant to disclose the video because I believe it will deeply embarrass Representative Morrissey,” Carroll wrote in a statement to the outlet. “However, it has become clear to me that the media are aware of the details of Representative Morrissey’s behavior and likely will continue to report on that behavior in the near future.”

Carroll said when he first saw the video of Morrissey, he felt “sad”. “There was no good that was going to come out of this,” he said.

Morrissey later apologized to Carroll during a subsequent meeting and claimed that she didn’t know the bag belonged to him.

According to Carroll, Morrissey initially said that she “flicked” water on the bag because she saw a bug on it. But she later added that she didn’t know why she decided to dump water on Carroll’s bag for months on end.

“At the end of the meeting, I looked at her and said, ‘You know, this has really fucked me up.’ There were weeks when I didn’t know who was doing this or why,” Carroll said.

“I walked around this place, paranoid of my fellow legislators, racking my brain trying to think, ‘What could I have possibly said or done?’”

Carroll said that he was still weighing whether he should pursue charges against Morrissey for the harassment.

As for whether he forgives Morrissey, Carroll said: “I guess I would have to say yes in the spirit of forgiveness, reluctantly. But if I had to be a smartass, I’d say her apology holds about as much water as my canvas bag.”