A Lawmaker Confronts the Long Arm of the Law

Cynthia Mckinney
Rep. Cynthia McKinney with her new, softer do, left, and with her trademark braids. (File Photos)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, March 30, 2006

Not being recognized is apparently something of an issue for Rep. Cynthia McKinney , as a Capitol Police officer discovered yesterday.

In 1998, the outspoken Georgia Democrat wrote a scathing letter to President Bill Clinton accusing White House guards of racism after they failed to recognize her when she arrived for an event. For years, the Hill newspaper reported in 2002, Capitol Police kept a photo of her posted in a basement office to warn security officers against committing any other such embarrassment.

Maybe it's time to change the photo. The police department is investigating a bizarre scuffle yesterday morning between McKinney and an officer who tried to stop her at a congressional office building checkpoint after apparently failing to realize she was a member of Congress.

McKinney allegedly "stabbed" the officer with her cellphone when he grabbed her, said a police source who requested anonymity because the investigation had just begun; the officer, whom the source did not identify, is considering whether to file criminal charges. The source said the officer was not seriously injured.

In a statement issued last night, McKinney said she regretted the "unfortunate confrontation."

"I know that Capitol Hill Police are securing our safety, that of thousands of others, and I appreciate the work that they do. I deeply regret that the incident occurred," McKinney said.

How on earth did this all come to pass? Could it be the officer didn't recognize her after her recent makeover? The 51-year-old recently ditched her trademark braids for a softer, full-bodied do that started turning heads around her suburban Georgia district in January.

"I was urgently trying to get to an important meeting on time to fulfill my obligations to my constituents," McKinney said in the statement. "Unfortunately, the Police Officer did not recognize me as a Member of Congress and a confrontation ensued. I did not have on my Congressional pin but showed the Police Officer my Congressional ID."

The office of House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood , which oversees security, referred questions to the Capitol Police. Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider would say only that "the matter has been brought to our attention, and it's currently under investigation."

Some Republicans, though, were more than happy to comment. Sean Spicer , a spokesman for the House GOP leadership, sent out a mass e-mail chortling over the irony of the incident happening on the same day the Democrats unveiled their national security agenda. "Not exactly a show of support for law enforcement," he wrote.

My Team Can Kick Your Team's . . .

Once, political sports bets involved good stuff: bushels of lobsters, thick steaks, maybe a fine wine or two. Now, we're down to Gatorade and vending-machine candy.

With their teams in the NCAA Final Four, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who represents George Mason University's district, and Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Republican from University of Florida territory, wanted in on some action. Davis put up a basket of Mars candies -- Milky Way Minis, Snicker Minis Mix, Twix Minis, Peanut M&Ms, etc. -- because the Mars family is based in Northern Virginia. Stearns put up a case of the power drink because it was developed at the college.

Davis (born in North Dakota, grew up in Fairfax County) is headed to Indianapolis for Saturday's game; Stearns (born in Washington, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and George Washington University) will miss the semifinals but has tickets for Monday's championship game. As if.

NYC on $35K a Week

Movie star Julia Roberts is taking a huge pay cut to be part of the the-ah-ter . The Oscar-winning actress made her Broadway debut Tuesday night in the family drama "Three Days of Rain" for a reported $35,000 a week instead of the $20 million she makes per movie. A lesser star could not have gotten away with her first-night blooper: Roberts broke character and cracked up when a plastic prop tomato accidentally bounced across the stage, according to wire reports.

This is the first big part for Roberts, 38, since giving birth to twins Phinnaeus and Hazel, now 16 months old . The preview audience at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre greeted her with huge applause; the critics weigh in when the play officially opens April 19.

Quote

"Obviously, Jack got off track in his business dealings, wrapped up in an extreme spirit of competition and disregard for 'the rules,' which may be the natural tendency of all real Jeffersonian liberals."

-- former Young Republicans chairman David Barron in one of 262 letters to U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck asking for mercy in Jack Abramoff's sentencing yesterday.


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