Capitol & State

Idaho's Casey skewered for parking his Bentley yards from U.S. Capitol

Porsche-driving Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart singled out Idaho's Greg Casey for shocking his "political sensibilities during this time of heightened concern about money and the access it buys in politics" by parking his Bentley yards from the U.S. House last weekend.

In his blog post Tuesday, "Money and access parked at the Capitol," Capehart includes a photo of Casey's British sports car and an email from Casey, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Business Industry Political Action Committee.

Known in his native Idaho as a bon vivant, Casey told Capehart he used his privileges as a former Senate sergeant at arms to snag the prime parking spot Saturday while his son worked at the rehearsal for the Memorial Day concert at the Capitol.

Wrote Casey: "BIPAC doesn’t lobby Congress or any policy making body. Neither I, nor my Bentley, were at the Capitol for any other reason than to work at and support the Memorial Day concert. [It's] a classic automobile to be sure, but hardly different than taking any other classic car out for the weekend.

"As to the parking, as a former officer of Congress, I am permitted to access the plaza for parking, as are hundreds of others. I do not abuse the privilege. I suppose I park there maybe three times a year."

Capehart describes the car as having a "six-figure price tag," but Casey told the Statesman he bought it used and didn't pay that much: "I eluded to that with Jonathan BEFORE he wrote the piece, explaining it is aging gracefully because I bought it right and have taken exceptionally good care of it. His Porsche probably cost more than my Bentley. But of course it was a gotcha story so none of that mattered."

A former chief of staff to retired GOP Sen. Larry Craig, Casey helped 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson defeat challenger Bryan Smith in last week's GOP primary. Also a former president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, Casey owns a home in Star and plans to retire in Idaho. IACI is a BIPAC affiliate and Capehart smoked Casey out thanks to his vanity "BIPAC" license plates.

Capehart, a regular on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," was part of the New York Daily News team that won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

Capehart acknowledged what he called Casey's "complete and reasonable explanation" but dinged him for insensitivity to the "99 Percent."

Wrote Capehart: "As the driver of a Porsche, I’m the last person to tut-tut Casey’s automobile choice. And in a city where parking is a premium, I certainly don’t begrudge him rock-star parking like that. But the Bentley’s six-figure price tag and sleek lines scream one-percent exclusivity. To see one parked in front of the Capitol struck me as a troubling symbol of money, power and access in Washington. And for the folks who saw Casey’s Bentley that day, it could be seen as the latest example of how the one percent have 100 percent access to whatever they want."