Did a New York Congressman Ride-and-Ditch a D.C. Cab Driver?
What does a U.S. representative do when a D.C. cabbie doesn't follow his specific, and also illegal, instructions for their drive around town? Ride-and-ditch like any wholesome American!
At least that's the attitude of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Even better? He ditched the cab driver after he called police! There's nothing better than a congressman running from the law. So how did this mayhem go down?
Cab driver Abraham Habteab tells Fox 5 he picked up Nadler at Union Station. Habteab didn't know it was Nadler until his buddies informed him later. Nadler asked for a lift to a Southwest D.C. hotel.
Nadler then asked Habteab to dump his luggage in the hotel and then take him back to Capitol Hill. Nadler insisted the meter stay on, which is illegal according to the D.C. Taxicab Commission. Cab riders must pay the entire fare at each destination, including waiting time. Nadler's request for another ride would require a new trip on the meter.
When Habteab refused to keep the meter running, Nadler refused to pay the $8 owed. Habteab called police. "He said I'm not going to wait for the police and he caught another cab and left," Habteab told Fox 5.
What did Nadler's office have to say? They called it a "misunderstanding." We just call it "being an asshole."
UPDATE: Nadler's office sent along a statement from the congressman. He insists he told Habteab that the Rayburn building was his final destination with a stop at his hotel. Here's his side of the story:
“Regarding a misunderstanding yesterday, I must correct the record. Arriving at Washington’s Union Station yesterday, I entered a taxi and asked the driver to take me to the Rayburn office building with one stop at my hotel to very briefly drop off my luggage, which is my routine each time I arrive in Washington. 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 DC taxi regulations. Mr. Habteab then ignored DC taxi regulations and refused to take me to my final destination without restarting the meter. This is against the law, and Taxi Commission Chairman Leon Swain has clarified that point to me personally in a letter, which I shared with Mr. Habteab, but which he refused to read. Today, I spoke personally with Chairman Swain, who has confirmed that I was correct in relying on his interpretation of the law as stated in the letter. Therefore, as Mr. Habteab would not obey the law and take me to my final destination, I was obligated to find another driver who would. Of course taxi drivers have rights, but so do passengers. I am working with the Taxicab Commission and Mr. Habteab to ensure that he receives the correct payment, despite his misinterpretation of the law.”
Nadler even provided the letter he received from the Taxi Commission(PDF) to further prove his actions were justified.
Our updated assessment: Nadler is still an asshole for storming off without paying. Period. Stiff him on the tip if you insist, but give the guy the fare you owe him and be on your way.
Check out the Fox 5 video to fully grasp the scandal at hand: