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.”

FILED UNDER: Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Latino_in_Boston says:

    Par for the course with this guy. If he’s trying to create an image of himself as a caricature of an entitled, out of touch white guy, he’s definitely succeeding.

  2. CB says:

    Water is wet, sky is blue, Gohmert is an arsehole. Yawn.

  3. @Latino_in_Boston:

    On the other hand, I have to wonder if “rude and irate” is just pig for the peasantry failing to grovel sufficiently while talking to their masters. While agreeing Gohmert shouldn’t have been using his congressional plate in this case, the police did improperly issue the ticket, and cops overreacting when someone points out they’re wrong is hardly unheard of.

  4. I’m sure the GOP will be around to denounce him shortly just like they did to Cynthia McKinney.

  5. Unsympathetic says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    He wasn’t on official business – he was taking a tour of the monument at 11pm. Also, he lied to the police about his purpose for being there when he was caught.

    The police were not incorrect to issue the ticket.

    But, hey, IOKIYAR!

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hell, where and when I grew up people would take baseball bats to the heads and kneecaps of parking nazis. Seriously. I’m not joking.

    In any case, obviously Politico is not a trustworthy source when it comes to Republicans doing or saying stuff, for obvious reasons, but assuming that news account is accurate then what we have here is a case of Congressman disease. That’s a condition evidenced by symptoms of faux grandeur, sheer arrogance and pedantic sanctimoniousness. Plus Rep. Gohmert at times can be sort of a dick. QED.

  7. @Unsympathetic:

    He wasn’t on official business – he was taking a tour of the monument at 11pm.

    Yes, but policing the misuse of official plates isn’t the job of the park police. In terms of their job, if the plate is there, they’re not supposed to ticket the vehicle. The fact Gohmert was misusing the plate doesn’t change the fact they did their job wrong. And police (especially the ones doing parking tickets) tend to get very huffy if someone points out they’re doing it wrong.

    But, hey, IOKIYAR!

    More it’s of story about a republican claiming the cops are assholes and the cops are claiming the republican is an asshole, and I suspect that all of them are right.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Hell, where and when I grew up people would take baseball bats to the heads and kneecaps of parking nazis.

    Where was that, Somalia?

  9. gVOR08 says:

    From deeper in the Politico article.

    A Park Police spokesman and Capitol Hill source said a congressional plate would not allow a lawmaker to park in a reserved spot near the Lincoln Memorial.
    The parking violation, for disobeying an official sign, would carry a $25 fine payable to the D.C. government.

    So, what CB said, @CB:

    And once again, where do Republicans find these people? And why?

  10. al-Ameda says:

    Another “entitled” Tea Party hero. Seriously, Lou is functionally able to live a relatively normal life despite his personality disorder.

  11. CB says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    More it’s of story about a republican claiming the cops are assholes and the cops are claiming the republican is an asshole, and I suspect that all of them are right.

    So much win. +1 for Stormy

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @CB: I’ve got no problem with the idea cops frequently act like asshats, but as near as I can make out, one cop properly ticketed the car and left. The Park Police spokesman said the congressional plate does not allow Gomer Gohmert to park there. A second cop, or cops, walked into the situation cold, apparently behaved politely, refrained from a confrontation with the congressman, took the ticket back, and may or may not have apologized. What exactly are we criticizing the Park Police for?

  13. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Yes, but policing the misuse of official plates isn’t the job of the park police. In terms of their job, if the plate is there, they’re not supposed to ticket the vehicle. ”

    He was parked in a space reserved for park service vehicles — you know, for the people who are actually doing their jobs. (Oh, yeah, and who can’t have a raise over the course of four years because Gohmert keeps pushing freezes on all Federal worker pay.)

    So yeah, they should have ticketed this priveleged prick. You may have some kind of bug up your butt about the evil fascist parking police, but Gohmert is entirely at fault, and when caught his response was “I’m more important than you.” This from the Tea Party’s Man of the People, who’s all about Freedom.

    They should have tased him.

  14. wr says:

    @gVOR08: “What exactly are we criticizing the Park Police for? ”

    Not kissing the asses of their superiors.

  15. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Whenever I read of Gohmert’s antics, I’m reminded of what Churchill once said: “Democracy is a very bad system but . . . all the others are so much worse.”

  16. Rick Almeida says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I usually find your comments sharp and worth reading, but this one cost me a couple of brain cells.

    Yes, but policing the misuse of official plates isn’t the job of the park police. In terms of their job, if the plate is there, they’re not supposed to ticket the vehicle.

    By your argument, the park police should not issue parking tickets to vehicles in parking lots located on park property? Can you provide some statuory or regulatory guidance that these plates immunize one from parking laws?