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When House Speaker Carl Albert Hit Two Cars on Capitol Hill

This is an article from the Washington Post on September 11th, 1972, when House Speaker Carl Albert, driven by too many drinks, hit two vehicles on Capitol Hill. Read this great story to find out what happened next!
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This is a great tale to share with your friends, especially if you work on the Hill. I credit GoDCer and frequent suggester of excellent stories, Marty, with this one.

Speaker of the House Carl Albert with President Richard Nixon
Speaker of the House Carl Albert with President Richard Nixon

Here’s an article from the Washington Post on September 11th, 1972.

A car driven by House Speaker Carl Albert struck two vehicles at Wisconsin and Macomb Street NW Saturday night, causing minor damage, police said. No one was injured and no charges were filed in the incident.

Second district police drove the 64-year-old Oklahoma Democrat home after the 11:30 p.m. incident, but did not file a report. They said none was necessary because the speaker had settled with the owner of one of the cars–witnesses said for cash–and that the owner of a struck van had driven off after discerning that there had been little or no damage to his vehicle. The names of the owners were withheld by police.

Police policy calls for the writing of an accident report where more than $100 in damages or personal injury are involved. “A report doesn’t have to be made if people can resolve minor accidents among themselves where there has been no flagrant violation of the law,” Deputy Chief Tilmon O’Bryant said yesterday.

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Oops. One too many drinks Albert. Don’t drink and drive.

Zebra Room circa 1989
Zebra Room circa 1989

Witnesses interviewed outside the Zebra Room, a bar at Wisconsin and Macomb, said that Albert appeared to have been drinking. But Sgt. James R. Sloan of the second district, who earlier had repeatedly denied knowledge of the incident, said that in “my professional opinion, he wasn’t drunk.”

Ray Waddle, manager of the Zebra Room, said he knew Albert because “he comes in here sometimes -I wouldn’t call him a regular patron.” Asked about the incident, Waddle said he would not comment because Albert “is a prominent man and if I said something I might get in trouble with the owner.” The owner, Hal Lake, was not available yesterday.

Witnesses who said they saw the Saturday accident, but who would not identify themselves to a reporter, gave this account:

Albert’s white Thunderbird hit the rear of the van truck and also struck a parked Pontiac Grand Prix, whose owner was in the Zebra Room. As the owner came outside to investigate, the Thunderbird drove off. About 15 or 20 minutes later, Albert drove the car back to the scene and a man who had been in the bar announced that he was a policeman, and opened the door of Albert’s car. He later disappeared.

When two policemen, responding to a call made by a waitress in the bar, approached Albert, witnesses said, the speaker began pushing at them and yelling, “Leave me alone, I’m Carl Albert, speaker of the House … you can’t touch me … I just got you your raises.”

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(A 17.6 per cent pay raise for beginning D.C. police and firemen recently passed Congress and was signed by the President.)

The policemen called for assistance and more scout cars drove up, witnesses said. Albert and the owner of the Pontiac negotiated and some money was accepted by the owner.

The owner, who had taken the names of witnesses, got out of the scout car, announced to a crowd of about two dozen, “I don’t need any witnesses now,” and drove away.

Albert’s son, David, 17, was brought back to the scene by police early yesterday morning to drive his father’s white Thunderbird home to their apartment at 4101 Cathedral Ave., several blocks away. The car had minor dents in the grill.

Sound sketchy to you? Definitely.

1974 House Speaker Carl Albert Oklahoma Philip John Burton Cranston Press Photo
1974 House Speaker Carl Albert Oklahoma Philip John Burton Cranston Press Photo
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