Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) apparently got into a spat with police officers and refused to pay a parking ticket issued to him at the Lincoln Memorial, though his office told TheBlaze he will "certainly" pay up if he was in the wrong.
Politico reported Wednesday that U.S. Park Police officers wrote Gohmert a ticket around 11 p.m. on March 13 for parking his SUV in a space reserved for the National Park Service. Gohmert told officers that his congressional placard allowed him to park there, and said he was on the committee that oversees the Park Service.
Gohmert took the citation and put it on a police car with his business card and wrote, "Oversight of Park Service is my job! Natural Resources Thus the Congressional Plate in window," according to a police report. One officer reportedly described Gohmert as "rude and irate" and another said he was "ranting."
A Gohmert spokeswoman painted a different picture, however, saying in a statement to TheBlaze that the congressman had been having dinner with his visiting step-sister and her husband and drove them to the memorial after she said she'd never seen it. Communications director Kimberly Willingham said "personally-escorted late night tours" are a regular occurrence when Congress is in session.
"The Congressman parked his car in one of several empty Park Service parking spaces as he always does when he’s there giving tours late at night. He has always had a friendly relationship with the Park Police and during these visits over the years he was always assured that parking in these spaces with his valid Congressional member plate was allowed," Willingham wrote.
"When he returned to the car from the monument fifteen minutes later, he had a ticket under his windshield wiper right above the Congressional plate," she continued. "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."
Willingham said Gohmert handed the note he was writing and the ticket to the officer. The officer said he hadn't noticed the 5-by-10-inch congressional plate in the front window "and would not know what it meant had he seen it."
"He apologized, taking the note and the ticket," she said.
But according to Politico, the police report didn't mention an apology or what happened with the citation. It says Gohmert allegedly told an officer he "did not have time to deal with the issue" and that "I left my business card with the ticket and I am not paying for the ticket" before driving away.
Washington, D.C. law allows members of Congress to park in "any available curb space" when on "official business" and displaying their congressional tags, though sources told Politico that would not extend to parking in a reserved spot near the memorial. Such a violation would carry a $25 fine.
In the statement, Willingham said Gohmert's office will check with the House sergeant-at-arms about congressional plates and parking procedure.
"[I]f the conclusion is that the Congressman was not allowed to park in this space late night for a tour, he will most certainly pay the $25 parking ticket," she said.