Vitter, Off the Hook... Again
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has dodged yet another bullet.
The senator has escaped further scrutiny in his alleged airport rage incident earlier this month in which he set off an alarm in the United Airlines terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport after opening a closed security door.
The Transportation Security Administration, which had been reviewing the incident, has determined Vitter violated no security rules at the airport.
"TSA worked with local partners to review the incident and determined the actions of the individual did not pose a security threat," the TSA said in a statement. "The individual caused a door to alarm but did not proceed into a restricted area."
It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for an unauthorized person to enter a restricted area at the airport. But TSA has decided that Vitter's flinging open the door to the jet bridge of the plane he was trying to catch didn't cross the criminal threshold.
Airport police officers were called March 5 to deal with an "irate passenger" in the United terminal. But by the time officers arrived, the passenger was gone, according to a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Vitter claimed he "accidentally went through a wrong door at the gate."
The incident came at an inopportune time for Vitter, as he was trying to rehabilitate his image in the wake of his involvement in the D.C. Madam scandal of two years ago. Vitter is gearing up for a reelection fight in 2010.
Today's vindication by the TSA is welcome news at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
"From the beginning much of the reporting on this non-incident sounded a lot like the Democrats when they talk about defeating Senator Vitter next year - a lot of hype and a lot of rhetoric with not a great deal of attention paid to reality and facts," says NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. "One can only hope that the same media outlets that breathlessly reported this a few weeks ago will now go back to their readers and viewers and work to set the record straight."
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