Driving-While-Zooming: Ohio state senator is busted using fake office background while video conferencing at the wheel (maybe his seatbelt gave the game away)
- Republican Ohio State Sen. Andrew Brenner drove while on a virtual meeting and used a picture of an office as the background to hide it
- His ruse was busted thanks to the sight of his seatbelt draped across his chest, with the background also fading momentarily as Brenner leaned back
- The same day, May 3, Ohio state lawmakers introduced a bill to crack down on distracted driving that includes video messaging
- Brenner told the Columbus Dispatch that he ‘wasn’t distracted’ and video calls are like phone calls to him
A state senator attended a virtual meeting while behind the wheel of his car on the same day his colleagues introduced a bill to punish distracted driving.
Ohio state Senator Andrew Brenner, a Republican, tried to disguise his whereabouts by adding a CGI background of a home office during Monday’s conference call.
But he was busted thanks to the sight of a seatbelt draped across his torso – and by the background momentarily dropping when he leaned back in his car seat.
Brenner attempted to defend his actions to The Columbus Dispatch, saying: ‘I wasn’t distracted.’
‘I was paying attention to the driving and listening to it (the meeting).’
‘I had two meetings that were back to back that were in separate locations. And I’ve actually been on other calls, numerous calls, while driving. Phone calls for the most part but on video calls, I’m not paying attention to the video. To me, it’s like a phone call.’
Republican Ohio State Sen. Andrew Brenner used a photo of an office as a Zoom backdrop to hide the fact he was driving during a video meeting on Monday
Despite the optics, he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong, telling The Columbus Dispatch , ‘I wasn’t distracted’
Brenner disappeared a couple times and returned with the office backdrop – but his seatbelt and the glitchy simulated background gave the game away
He started the May 3 Controlling Board meeting by sitting in his car, but he wasn’t driving.
Around the 3:40-minute mark he disappears and returns 40 seconds later with the office backdrop. His head was on a swivel and his seatbelt was on.
Brenner again fiddled with the phone around the 4:40 mark, disappeared and returned at the 5:18 mark.
Not only is his seatbelt clearly visible, the background above his head continues to move.
Brenner showed Ohio what the state assembly wants to crack down on with its House Bill 283, which would ban writing, sending or reading texts, viewing videos or taking photos, live streaming and using apps on electric devices while driving.
The governor introduced a similar bill last year, a month before the pandemic, that banned the same actions and violators would face punishment similar to DUI charges.
Brenner previously sparked controversy in April 2020 after he and his wife Sara Marie Brenner – a councilwoman – made Facebook posts likening a proposed COVID-19 policy to that of Nazi Germany.
The pair were condemned by Ohio governor Mike DeWine after attacking former Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton – who is Jewish – over a potential proposal for COVID-19 ‘immunity certificates’.
Brenner previously sparked controversy in April 2020 after he and his wife Sara Marie Brenner – a councilwoman – made Facebook posts likening a proposed COVID-19 policy to that of Nazi Germany
The same day Brenner was caught driving while Zooming, the Ohio state assembly introduced a bill to crack down on distracted driving
In February, Texas Attorney Ron Ponton inadvertently appeared at a court hearing with a kitten filter on
Minnesota Represenative Tom Emmer suffered his own Zoom blunder in February, when he appeared upside down throughout a hearing
Brenner’s gaffe is the latest in a series of Zoom mishaps to have hit workers attending virtual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, Texas attorney Ron Ponton appeared as a kitten for a hearing before the Lone Star State’s 394th District Court.
Ponton was unable to turn the kitten filter off before the hearing began, and could be heard growing increasingly stressed as it unfolded.
And later the same month, Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer was unable to turn off a special effect that saw his head float upside down against a blue background throughout a congressional hearing.