WASHINGTON – Rep. Cynthia McKinney may have stood on the House floor Thursday to offer a mea culpa for a scuffle she had with a Capitol Police officer last week, but another incident with her private security guard moments earlier did not help de-escalate the flap.
A private security guard in McKinney's entourage got into a shoving match with Scott McFarlane, a reporter from WSB-TV in Atlanta, McKinney's hometown. The security guard threatened to throw the reporter's "a-- in jail."
In the incident, McFarlane tried to ask McKinney, as she was ascending the East Front Steps of the Capitol, if she had spoken to a grand jury when the guard and the reporter started elbowing each other. A grand jury is deciding whether to press charges against McKinney for an altercation with a Capitol Police officer last Wednesday.
"I'm going to put your a-- in jail next time you push me," said the retired Georgia State patrolman, who was about six inches shorter than the lithe reporter.
"Sir, do you work for the Capitol Police?" asked McFarlane, to which the guard replied no.
"Who are you a police officer with, sir?" McFarlane asked as McKinney, the guard and an aide quickly climbed the steps.
Capitol Police told FOX News they are irritated to learn that McKinney was using private security on the Capitol grounds. A spokesperson for COX Television, which owns WSB-TV, said the company is uncertain whether its wants to press charges. A Capitol Police spokeswoman said the police force won't investigate unless and until a complaint is filed.
McKinney was on her way to the House floor to make a formal apology for the incident last week in which she allegedly beat a Capitol Police officer's chest after he supposedly put his hand on her arm to stop her forward progress after she bypassed the Longworth House Office Building metal detector.
Lawmakers are permitted to skip the security checkpoints if they are wearing a congressional lapel pin that identifies them as an elected official or if they are recognized by the police. The six-term congresswoman was not wearing her pin.
"I come here before this body to personally express again my sincere regret about the encounter with the Capitol Hill Police. ... There should not have been any physical contact in this incident," McKinney said after being recognized by the speaker pro tempore.
"I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all, and I regret this escalation, and I apologize," McKinney said to applause. McKinney also said she would support a House resolution introduced by Republicans to express appreciation for the work done by Capitol Police.
The "regrets" and "sorrys" may have had something to do with the fact that 21 African-American members of Congress met with McKinney and asked her to back down from the fight so as not to interfere with the Democratic message that they say has been gaining traction of late.
Republicans, who have endured a run of bad news lately, were relieved to see a Democrat caught in controversy for a change. Speaker Dennis Hastert's spokesman sent around a statement after McKinney made her floor statement wondering aloud if McKinney were making an apology to the police officer or to Democrats "for mixing up their national security message."
In either case, the apology did not satisfy the police force. The union for the Capitol Police issued a statement indicating they do not consider the matter settled. "The criminal penalty for an assault of an officer is not an apology," reads the statement.
Whether a criminal penalty arises at all will depend in part on the anonymous grand jury meeting convened in Washington, D.C. by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein. The panel will decide whether to file charges against the congresswoman. Thursday, it heard from Troy Phillips, legislative assistant to Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., and Lisa Subrize, executive assistant to Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., who were reportedly present at the incident last week.
Bob Jackson, a spokesman for McCotter, said that Subrize witnessed the confrontation and immediately filled out a form for the Capitol Police, describing what she saw.
A spokeswoman for Farr declined comment.
FOX News' Brian Wilson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.