Stark steamed over security slowdown

This from today’s edition of Roll Call:

pete-stark.jpgBy Emily Heil and Anna Palmer
Roll Call Staff

Maybe Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) was none too pleased to return to work on Tuesday, or maybe he really, really hates being late for a meeting.

Whatever the reason, the Congressman caused a scene outside the Capitol on Tuesday morning after apparently growing impatient with a security check.

When Stark drove up to park his car on the plaza on the House side of the Capitol on Tuesday, Capitol Police officers stopped him at a security barricade, as is the norm on Capitol Hill.

But Stark didn’t seem to be in the mood for delays. According to a witness, the Congressman began to argue and curse when the officers tried to search the car with a police canine.

Stark eventually stormed away, the witness said, leaving his car where it was and making his way into the Capitol. On his way in, Stark briefly talked to House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood – the man in charge of overall House security.

Things appeared to have calmed down by Tuesday afternoon, and a Stark aide downplayed the incident. “The Capitol Police wouldn’t let Congressman Stark’s car through the barricade,” the aide explained. “He was late to a meeting with the Speaker and so he got out of the car and walked.”

Capitol Police are now conducting an investigation, according to a spokesman for the House Administration Committee, which has oversight over the force.

“We can’t comment on specifics, except to say that dissatisfaction was expressed to Capitol Police regarding a routine security inspection of a Member’s vehicle entering the Capitol plaza,” spokesman Kyle Anderson said. “We support the police and ask the Capitol community to be understanding that the need for security screening can sometimes be inconvenient. Ultimately, it is required to ensure the safety and security of Capitol Hill.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.