OKLAHOMA CITY – Airport security was foremost on the mind of Rep. J.C. Watts when he shoved a $15 parking ticket under the badge of the policeman who gave it to him and said, "Take care of it," an aide said Monday.
Watts, R-Okla., got the ticket on Sept. 28 for leaving his car unattended at Will Rogers World Airport. He was helping his wife, Frankie, take her bags into the terminal.
"Hey you guys, I was just inside for a few seconds. Didn't you see me drive up," Pam Pryor, Watts' chief of staff quoted him as saying.
"Well, what if I had a bomb?" she said Watts asked.
"The inference was 'You guys need to pay attention, what if I had had a bomb and walked in there."'
At that point, Pryor said, Watts pushed the ticket under police Sgt. Edward Stupka's badge, and the officer tossed it into the congressman's car. Watts' wife has paid the ticket.
"J.C. makes no excuses, whatsoever, but understands everyone is under extra stress" since the terrorist bombings," Pryor said. "He does recognize that he got angry and he shouldn't have."
Pryor said that Watts called Stupka over the weekend and apologized, but that the officer did not appear to have accepted the apology, telling Watts that he would receive a letter from the police union.
Watts will have no further comment until he receives the letter, Pryor said.
Police spokeswoman Capt. Jessica Cummins said the police department considers airport terminal parking an important security issue.
"Signs have been added in loading and non-loading zones not to leave your vehicle unattended," she said.
"Our position is it doesn't matter who an individual is, we're going to enforce any security-related issues that occur at Will Rogers World Airport."
Stupka did not return telephone messages seeking his comment.