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Heard on the Hill: Vitter Goes From Hookergate to Gate-Crashing

Among Members of Congress, there’s a long-standing, proud tradition of the Airport Freakout. Add to the list of those who’ve indulged in meltdowns and temper tantrums while traveling one Sen. David Vitter, who on Thursday joined what we’ve dubbed the “Mile-Low Club” by going ballistic on an airline worker after missing a flight from Washington’s Dulles airport to New Orleans.

According to an HOH tipster who witnessed the scene, the Louisiana Republican arrived Thursday evening at his United Airlines gate 20 minutes before the plane was scheduled to depart, only to find the gate had already been closed. Undeterred, Vitter opened the door, setting off a security alarm and prompting an airline worker to warn him that entering the gate was forbidden.

Vitter, our spy said, gave the airline worker an earful, employing the timeworn “do-you-know-who-I-am” tirade that apparently grew quite heated.

That led to some back and forth, and the worker announced to the irritable Vitter that he was going to summon security.

Vitter, according to the witness, remained defiant, yelling that the employee could call the police if he wanted to and their supervisors, who, presumably, might be more impressed with his Senator’s pin.

But after talking a huffy big game, Vitter apparently thought better of pushing the confrontation any further. When the gate attendant left to find a security guard, Vitter turned tail and simply fled the scene.

Perhaps he recalled some of the airport antics that have landed his colleagues in trouble, including Rep. Bob Filner’s (D-Calif.) arrest at Dulles in 2007 for allegedly assaulting an airline worker. Or perhaps he thought of the lashing that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) took for reports of her diva-esque airport behavior.

Vitter has only recently been reasserting himself in Congress, following a stint in the metaphorical wilderness after his name showed up in 2007 on the phone records of the “D.C. Madam.”

Or Vitter, whose spokesman wouldn’t comment on the incident, might have learned just a little something from his sex-scandal embarrassment about impulse control.

Thanks for Playing! It’s a little bit like those suburban developers who name streets in new subdivisions after the trees they ripped out.

The House on Monday named an Iowa courthouse building after former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), who served in Congress for 15 terms. But here’s the kicker — the bill was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, the very guy who vanquished Leach in a squeak-by win in the 2006 elections.

Loebsack said the gesture of naming the federal courthouse building, located in Leach’s hometown of Davenport, is meant as a tribute of respect for his predecessor’s 30 years of service. “Jim’s legacy of bipartisan statesmanship, his leadership in foreign affairs, his dedication to public service, and his capable representation of his constituents left a lasting impact on the District I am now honored to represent,” Loebsack said in a statement.

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