July 22, 2010 -- The Washington connection between Congress and lobbying just got a little dirtier.
ABC News spoke with former Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Pennsylvania, and confirmed that a Volkswagen Jetta with a George W. Bush bumper sticker, covered in dirt and cobwebs and parked in the congressional Longworth House Office Building parking garage, does, in fact, belong to her.
Hart was voted out of office in 2006, but her car remains parked in the choice spot more than four years later.
ABC News first reported on the congresswoman's dirty car abandoned in a taxpayer-subsidized Capitol Hill parking spot earlier this month. Hart told ABC News she would donate the long-abandoned and illegally parked car to charity. But that hasn't happened yet.
The issue is not the clunker's obvious need for a tune-up and a car wash but, rather, the owner's particular profession.
According to the website of the Committee on House Administration, former members of Congress are allowed to park or store their cars in House parking garages free of charge indefinitely, as long as they are not registered lobbyists. Hart now chairs Pittsburgh-based law firm Keevican Weiss Bauerle & Hirsch's government relations practice, which is registered in the Senate lobbyist database.
Ex-Rep. Melissa Hart Not Aware of Parking Rules
ABC News asked Hart, who represented Pennsylvania's 4th district through 2006 but lost her reelection bid to Democrat Jason Altmire, if she was aware of the House rules concerning parking perks. She said she was not.
Hart said the car was a piece of junk that she used for short trips around Washington. Asked if she felt any need to reimburse taxpayers for the spot, valued at around $200 a month, that her Jetta has illegally occupied since March 2009, when she became a registered lobbyist, she said no.
Hart said she had planned to allow other people to use the car (and presumably the sweet parking place) but it never happened.