Nadler responds to taxi driver’s allegation

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday responded to an accusation by D.C. taxicab driver Abraham Habteab that he skipped out on a fare Tuesday.

The incident began when Habteab picked up the lawmaker at Union Station at about 2:30 p.m. and drove him to his hotel. Nadler told Habteab he wanted to check in and drop off his luggage before going to his office on Capitol Hill. He asked the driver to keep the meter running while he did so. Habteab refused. 

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“When we arrived at the first stop, I advised the driver, Mr. Habteab, that I would be out of the cab for 30 seconds or so, and requested that he leave the meter running, in accordance with D.C. taxi regulations,” Nadler told ITK. “Mr. Habteab then ignored D.C. taxi regulations and refused to take me to my final destination without restarting the meter.”

Habteab says he considered the two trips separate. “I stop the meter, you pay,” he says he told Nadler, recounting the events to a CBS affiliate on Tuesday. 

But the law appears to side with Nadler, who even carries with him a letter to that effect from Taxi Commission Chairman Leon Swain. “I shared [the letter] with Mr. Habteab,” Nadler said, “but he refused to read.”

Upset, Nadler got out of the cab without paying for the initial ride from the station, and got into another cab.

“Mr. Habteab would not obey the law and take me to my final destination,” the lawmaker explained, “[so] I was obligated to find another driver who would. Of course taxi drivers have rights, but so do passengers.”

After Habteab complained to the media on Tuesday, Nadler called Swain on Wednesday morning to reconfirm the law. “Chairman Swain ... has confirmed that I was correct in relying on his interpretation of the law as stated in the letter.”

Nadler said he is “working with the Taxicab Commission and Mr. Habteab to ensure that he receives the correct payment, despite his misinterpretation of the law.”