Shays gets heat from Himes on Capitol Police incident

A Democratic challenger to Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) called the lawmaker’s recent outburst at a Capitol Police officer “an embarrassment.”

Last Thursday, Shays repeatedly swore at a Capitol Police officer, touching his nametag to read it before storming away.
The 11-term congressman apologized for his actions Friday and vowed to apologize to the officer in person Monday. At press time Monday, Shays’s office did not say whether he had spoken with the officer himself.

Jim Himes, a Democrat running for Shays’s seat, praised the police officers and questioned Shays’s actions.

“The fact that Chris Shays would verbally assault [an officer] is an embarrassment to himself and the people of Connecticut,” Himes told The Hill.

Himes said he would not be issuing a statement on Shays’s outburst, but said that he is “running on the issues that Chris Shays has ignored.”

Himes is chairman of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee and a vice president of Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps people find affordable housing. At the end of last quarter, Himes had $336,000 and Shays had
$367,000 in cash on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Shays’s office did not comment on Himes’s statement.

In a statement on Friday, Shays said that he became frustrated with the officer while trying to find a family of constituents caught in the rain. He said that the interaction with the officer was “inappropriate.”

“Although my focus was in trying to locate my constituents and get them to a dry location, I know I clearly could have
handled the situation with the officer in a more professional and respectful way, and I regret I did not do so,” Shays said in a statement.

According to sources familiar with the event, the outburst began after Officer Randy Cooper informed a Shays staff member that he could not bring a tour through a lower west front door, which has restricted access.

The officer filed a courtesy complaint against Shays, according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. A courtesy complaint goes through the officer’s chain of command, the chief of police and the police boards. It is not criminal in nature.

Last year, then-Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) assaulted a Capitol Police officer with her cell phone when he failed to recognize her as a member of Congress. She lost her bid for reelection.

State Sen. Bob Duff, Ted Kennedy Jr., state Sen. Andrew McDonald and state Rep. Jim Shapiro are some of the other Democrats contending for Shays’s seat.