Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) must pay a $5,000 fine for not submitting to a full security screening when entering the House floor last month, according to the House Ethics Committee, which upheld the fine after Gohmert contested.
Gohmert has refused to abide by a House rule that states lawmakers who refuse to walk through metal detectors installed outside the House will be fined $5,000 for their first offense and $10,000 for any subsequent offense.
Gohmert claimed that he was unaware he had to submit to another security screening before re-entering the chamber after, he says, excusing himself to go to the restroom.
“During the weeks that the metal detectors have been in place, I have entered the House floor previously after being screened through the metal detector, then later gone to the Members’ restroom immediately beside the Speaker’s Lobby many times. I have never before been wanded on coming from the restroom to the House floor,” he wrote. “There was no metal detector between the floor at the short distance to the restroom. It made good sense that there did not need to be. There are not even any tanks on toilets so someone could hide a gun in them like in The Godfather movie.”
He did, however, acknowledge that he was asked by a Capitol Police officer to undergo screening before he could return to the House floor.
“As has happened on previous days, my turn to be recognized and engage in speech and debate on the House floor was nearing, so I headed for the restroom right before I was to speak. That is something I often do before speaking publicly. As I did, I mentioned to the officers on the day in question that I was going to the restroom right by the Speaker’s Lobby, and they watched me go in and within probably less than three minutes, watched me return,” he wrote, adding: “The officer said I needed to be wanded but since I had already been through the metal detector thoroughly and having never before been required to be handed after already having entered the floor properly, I returned to the House floor to engage in my turn to debate the bill under consideration.”
The Ethics Panel wrote that “A majority of the committee did not agree to the appeal.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.