Outspoken Tea Party Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert (TX) got into a late-night altercation with U.S. Park Police over a parking ticket earlier this month. According to Politico, Gohmert attempted to pull rank with the police officers to get out of the citation.
A National Park Service (NPS) police report said that Gohmert's black Ford SUV was cited at 11:00 p.m. on March 13 for parking in a spot reserved for NPS vehicles at Washington's Lincoln Memorial. Gohmert, said the report, was "rude and irate" in his confrontation with the officers.
“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 said to one officer. "I am going to a meeting on the Hill and I am the one who oversees the National Park Services and Natural Resources.”
Another officer described Gohmert as "ranting."
“Oversight of Park Service is my job!" he shouted. "Natural resources! Thus the Congressional Plate in the window.”
Telling an officer he "did not have time" to deal with the issue, Gohmert left his business card with the officer holding his ticket, but insisted that he would not pay it. He then drove away.
Gohmert's office contradicted his assertion to police that he was on his way to a meeting. A representative said on Wednesday that the congressman had been out to dinner with relatives when he decided to take 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," said spokesperson Kimberly Willingham. "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.”
Washington, D.C. law states that members of Congress may park their vehicles "in any available curb space in the District of Columbia," but only if they are on "official business." Members may not block fire hydrants, loading zones or rush hour zones.
An NPS official and a source with the Capitol Police both told Politico that a congressional plate would not entitle Gohmert to park in a reserved spot at the Lincoln Memorial.