Report: Vitter threw airport tantrum

The Louisiana senator reportedly tried to board his plane after the gate had been closed, then went head-to-head with an airline employee.

Published March 11, 2009 3:45PM (EDT)

Well, at least Sen. David Vitter, R-La., will now be famous for something other than solicitation.

Roll Call reports that Vitter got a bit heated when he arrived at the airport late for his flight last week:

According to [a] 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.

Of course, as Roll Call observes, this kind of bad behavior and sense of entitlement in a member of Congress isn't exactly unique to Vitter. Democratic Reps. Bob Filner and Sheila Jackson Lee have had their own airport troubles in recent years.

Update: Vitter has now responded to the story. "After being delayed on the Senate floor ensuring a vote on my anti-pay-raise amendment and in a rush to make my flight home for town hall meetings the next day, I accidentally went through a wrong door at the gate," the senator said in a statement. "I did have a conversation with an airline employee, but it was certainly not like this silly gossip column made it out to be."

(Via TPMDC.)

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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