Texas Congressman In Verbal Altercation Over Parking Ticket
Congressman Louie Gohmert tried to use his rank as a Congressman to get out of a parking ticket:
A Texas Republican congressman got into a late-night verbal altercation with U.S. Park Police officers earlier this month, pulling rank in an attempt to get out of a parking ticket near the Lincoln Memorial.
Shortly after 11 p.m. on March 13, officers wrote Rep. Louie Gohmert a citation for parking his black Ford SUV in a spot reserved for National Park Service vehicles, according to a Park Police report obtained by POLITICO.
But Gohmert wasn’t having it: He told the Park Police that his congressional parking placard allows him to park in that spot, and he’s on the committee that oversees the agency.
Gohmert took the ticket off his windshield and placed it on a police car along with his business card with a written message: “Oversight of Park Service is my job! Natural Resources Thus the Congressional Plate in window.”
He was “rude and irate,” one officer reported. Another wrote that Gohmert was “ranting.”
“I was issued a ticket and I am a congressman and parked my vehicle in the NPS parking only because I have a Congress placard, see,” Gohmert told one officer, according to the report. “I am going to a meeting on the Hill and I am the one who oversees the National Park Services Natural Resources.”
Gohmert’s communications director, Kimberly Willingham, told POLITICO via email that the congressman had dinner with his stepsister and her husband that evening and decided to drive them to the memorial.
“He parked his car in one of several empty park service parking spaces, which a member of Congress is allowed to do with his Congressional plate in the front window as required. When he returned to the car fifteen minutes later, he had a ticket under his windshield wiper right above the Congressional plate,” Willingham said.
“A park service vehicle pulled up as he was putting a note with the ticket on a vacant park service vehicle, so he showed his official card, explained that his Congressional plate was showing and he was authorized to park there,” she added. “The park service officer said he had not noticed the 5″ x 10″ Congressional plate in the front window and would not know what it meant had he seen it. The officer accepted the ticket back and apologized.”
The police report, which includes statements from three officers, makes no mention of apologizing to Gohmert or what happened to the parking violation. The Park Police did not provide an update.
Gohmert told an officer that he “did not have time to deal with the issue,” according to the report. The report says that Gohmert told officers “I left my business card with the ticket and I am not paying for a ticket” and drove off without further incident.
Washington law says members of Congress may park their cars “in any available curb space in the District of Columbia” when it is being used “on official business” and displaying the congressional registration tag issued by the member’s home state. Members may not block loading zones, fire hydrants or rush hour zones.
Last time I checked, taking people on late night monument tours is not “official business.”