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Alan Grayson Left Trail of Traffic Tickets Before Lynx Bus Crash
By: Kenric Ward
Sunshine State News
March 17, 2012
Alan Grayson’s collision with a Lynx bus in downtown Orlando last weekend was the latest in a string of road follies by the former Democratic congressman who now is seeking a return to office.
According to court and law-enforcement documents obtained by Sunshine State News, Grayson racked up nine traffic citations in Florida and Virginia since 1995.
The offenses — which ranged from speeding to littering to "improper backing" — resulted in fines and, in one case, enrollment at traffic school.
Grayson’s run-in with the Lynx on March 10 was apparently the first offense involving a collision. In that incident, Grayson allegedly ran a red light en route to a campaign fundraising event and smashed into the bus with his Mercedes.
News of Grayson’s latest traffic escapade prompted instant mockery from Republicans who have frequently felt the lash of his hyper-partisan attacks.
“If you thought the only thing reckless about Alan Grayson was his big-government, tax-and-spend agenda, think again. It turns out on the road to destroying jobs, he’s endangering innocent bystanders in more ways than one," said Nat Sillin, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Reports from the scene said three people on the bus were taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. Grayson and his passenger, a 28-year-old campaign staffer named Lydia Brooks, were unharmed.
With airbags on Grayson’s 2009 Mercedes deploying in the crash, the vehicle had to be towed from the scene with what observers called "significant damage."
Grayson, who found alternative transportation to his $1,000-a-person fundraiser headlined by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and actress Cheryl Hines, told police he didn’t know what color the traffic signal was at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Livingston Street. Witnesses told police it was red.
Reached by Sunshine State News on Friday, Grayson spokesman Todd Jurkowski declined to comment specifically on the accident or Grayson’s previous run-ins with the law.
"Based on the best driving statistics available, Congressman Grayson is an average driver," Jurkowski said.
Putting the former congressman’s driving record in context, Jurkowski noted, "The Federal Highway Administration says there are about 190 million drivers in the United States. Motorists.org estimates that there are up to 50 million citations given every year. That comes out to about one ticket every four years.
"The congressman has been driving for 36 years — 36 years divided by nine citations is one every four years," he concluded.
But three of Grayson’s prospective Republican opponents in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District aren’t buying that.
"It’s not surprising that one of America’s greatest critics who constantly condemns America would have his own issues. I would suggest he focus on his own failings and shortcomings," said Todd Long.
Mark Oxner noted, "Alan Grayson’s driving record is bad, but his voting record is even worse. His progressive policies would run our economy under the bus.
"His driving may be a threat to our streets, but his political views are a threat to our future. One of the scariest things you can hear: ‘I’m Alan Grayson, I’m from the government, and I’m driving over to help.’"
Julius Melendez said Grayson’s "imperfect driving isn’t the important issue in this race. My driving record isn’t perfect either, but my record doesn’t point to the type of disregard for my fellow Americans like Mr. Grayson’s does.
"Grayson has no respect for America whatsoever. If the voters of District 9 vote for him, he’ll drive the budget and our future the way he drives his Mercedes Benz," Melendez said.
Orlando Police said Grayson, 54, was ticketed for running a red light, which carries a fine of $262,
Matthew Friedman, spokesman for Lynx, said the collision was "being handled like all other accidents." He said the bus company was still conducting an investigation "to figure out what happened."
Friedman declined to comment on any liability issues or claims stemming from the crash.
As for Grayson’s previous road offenses, court records and law-enforcement reports revealed:
On June 18, 2007, Grayson was cited for failure to obey a highway sign, operating an uninspected vehicle and operating an unlicensed vehicle. He paid a fine of $204 to the Fairfax County (Va.) General District Court.
On April 5, 2005, he was cited for driving 6-to-9 mph over the speed limit and paid $76 to attend traffic school. He paid the Orange County Clerk of Courts $76 to attend traffic school, which he completed on May 30.
On May 15, 2005, he was cited for littering on a public highway and paid an $80 fine to the Orange County Clerk of Courts on May 24.
Also on May 15, 2005, Grayson was cited for careless driving. He paid a civil penalty of $115.50 to the Orange County Clerk of Courts on May 24.
On April 10, 2004, he was cited for failing to obey highway signs in Arlington County, Va. He paid a $30 fine and $54 in court costs.
On June 21, 2002, he was cited for an expired vehicle inspection violation and paid a $25 fine plus $42 in costs to Loudoun County, Va.
On July 27, 2000, he was ticketed for disregarding highway signs in Fairfax County, Va. He paid a $30 fine and $50 in court costs.
On Dec. 3, 1999, Grayson pleaded guilty to “improper backing” in Fairfax County. He paid a $50 fine and $30 in processing fees on March 2, 2000.
On Dec. 12, 1995, he was cited for improper passing on the right in Arlington County. He was found guilty in circuit court on June 19, 1996, and paid a $200 fine and $459 in costs.
Jurkowski declined to comment on the specifics of any of the Virginia or Florida cases.
All nine incidents pre-dated Grayson’s election to Congress in 2008, when he defeated incumbent Rep. Ric Keller, R-Orlando.
Grayson, who earned a reputation as one of the most bombastic and divisive Democrats on Capitol Hill, served one term before he was ousted by Republican Daniel Webster in 2010.
This year, Grayson is attempting a comeback in the new "Latino Access" CD 9, which encompasses parts of Osceola, Orange and Polk counties.
Grayson, an attorney and the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, lives in unincorporated Orange County, outside the district.