By Tim Gardner
North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx has been issued a $5,000 fine for failing to comply with a security screening before entering the House Chamber at the nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C. on May 13. Foxx evaded House metal detectors erected following the January 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump.
Foxx, a Republican, is the United States Representative for North Carolina’s 5th congressional district, which encompasses much of the northwestern portion of the state, including Watauga and Ashe counties, as well as the Gastonia area in the Southern Piedmont of North Carolina. She was first elected to Congress in 1994 and has been re-elected seven times.
Foxx was reared in Avery County, NC. She is the fifth member of Congress to be fined under rules of this security measure proposed by Speak of The House Nancy Pelosi and approved by the Democrat-controlled House earlier this year.
This was Foxx’s first violation of the House rule, according to a notification of violation addressed to her.
Capitol Police reported that Foxx exited the elevators to access the House floor for a vote.
The 77-year old Republican “ran through the magnetometer, triggering the alarm,” and “threw her bag underneath the table” next to the screening device, according to a memorandum of the incident filed by U.S. Capitol Police. Foxx said she was late for a vote, according to a witness statement.
Two officers then raised their hands and said “Ma’am” in an attempt to stop Foxx. She reportedly ignored the officers and entered the House floor.
According to a Capitol Police statement, Politico publication reporter Olivia Beavers saw the interaction and told the officers, “I don’t want to get you guys in trouble, but I’m going to be reporting on that.”
Beavers later approached Foxx to question her on the incident to which Foxx allegedly yelled, “Why don’t you deal with things that are important?”
In a letter dated May 14 to Representative Theodore E. Deutch, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Sergeant at Arms William J. Walker wrote that Foxx violated a House resolution that requires security screenings for all lawmakers.
The report submitted to the House Ethics Committee said the officers then observed Foxx while she was in the House chamber to cast her vote. She then returned to the security screening station to collect her bag and complete the required security check, also reportedly telling the officers “good thing no one stopped me.”
High Country Press contacted Foxx’s Boone office to ask if she would be releasing statements about her fine, and was advised to contact the Congresswoman’s Washington, D.C. office. When contacting the latter office, High Country Press was advised by one of Foxx’s staff members that it was not known yet if Foxx would be releasing statements about the fine. The staff member was asked to forward any press releases about the incident to High Country Press if Foxx makes any such official statements.
The House introduced new security screening procedures — including metal detectors — the week after the attack on the United State Capitol building. Some House Republicans argued the security measures were an infringement on Second Amendment rights. Lawmakers are allowed to carry unloaded weapons on Capitol grounds, but not on the House floor.
When some objectors openly defied the new rule, the House granted the sergeant-at-arms the authority to fine members of Congress $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for a second offense.
Representatives Louie Gohmert (Republican) of Texas and Andrew Clyde, (Republican) of Georgia were the first lawmakers fined for violating the rule in February. The $5,000 fine was deducted from each of their salaries. Clyde is the only member of Congress to be slapped with the hefty $10,000 fine issued for a second magnetometer offense.
Another Republican lawmaker, Hall Rogers of Kentucky, was fined $5,000 for violating the security measure. Gohmert, Clyde and Rogers all filed appeals earlier this year contesting their magnetometer fines – but to no avail.
Representative Jim Clyburn (South Carolina) is the only Democrat to have been fined for the security measure violation so far, though he has appealed the ticket.
Foxx graduated from old Crossnore High School in Avery County and the from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in 1968. She later earned both a Master of Arts in college teaching (1972) and Ed.D (1985) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Foxx worked as a research assistant and then an English instructor at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute and Appalachian State University before moving into university administration. From 1987 until her 1994, she was president of Mayland Community College located in Southern Avery County along the Avery-Mitchell County line. Under former North Carolina Governor James G. Martin, Foxx served as Deputy Secretary for Management. From 1994 to 2004, Foxx served in the North Carolina Senate.