Under D.C. law, members of Congress are exempt from parking tickets when on “official business,” yet they’ve racked up at least $15,000 in unpaid tickets, according to a survey by Roll Call’s Jennifer Yachnin.
Federal law prevented Roll Call from accessing information based on license plates, so the newspaper canvassed member-only lots and vehicles that have displayed a House or Senate-issued member parking tag. Their findings show these member-tagged vehicles had $15,000 in outstanding fines as of mid-March–fines that members have to pay out of their own pockets, not from federal coffers.
The newspaper probe has prompted several lawmakers immediately to make good on their debt to society: Staffers for Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said the congressman is now sorting out $640 in tickets; Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) paid $610, together with $250 racked up by his spokesman; and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) paid $2,180 after Roll Call contacted him about the outstanding tickets.
“All of the Congressman’s parking tickets have been paid,” Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold told the paper. “He is pleased to have helped decrease the D.C. budget deficit.”
Members are only exempt from parking fines only when they use vehicles with plates from the state they represent—and even then, they are still subject to penalties for select parking infractions, speeding, and other violations.