Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) is facing charges for allegedly pulling a fire alarm in a House office building ahead of a crucial government spending vote that took place last month. The charges were levied by D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, who filed one misdemeanor count of falsely pulling a fire alarm against Bowman for the incident that occurred on September 30, according to court documents.
Bowman has been ordered to report to the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) headquarters for booking, fingerprinting, photography, and processing, with an expected appearance in D.C. Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. The charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail, but it has been reported that Bowman is pleading guilty and has agreed to pay the maximum fine of $1,000. Additionally, he will issue a formal apology to the Capitol Police. If Bowman adheres to the terms of the deal, which includes three months of probation, the charge will be dropped.
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) September 30, 2023
The incident took place on September 30 when a fire alarm led to the evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building. The subsequent investigation by the Capitol Police resulted in a criminal referral to the D.C. prosecutor.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 25, 2023
In response to the charges, Bowman released a statement expressing his desire to move past the incident. He acknowledged his responsibility for activating the fire alarm, pledged to pay the fine, and expressed his anticipation for the charges to be ultimately dropped.
Despite his admission and apology, Bowman faced criticism and blowback over the incident, including a Republican effort to expel him from Congress and comparisons to the Capitol breach on January 6, 2021. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) came to his defense, explaining that the Cannon construction reroutes had made the tunnel walks longer, and the exit Bowman used was the easiest route.
Bowman’s office also released a memo to other Democrats with suggested talking points regarding the fire alarm incident. Notably, the memo contained a statement suggesting that “Republicans need to instead focus their energy on the Nazi members of their party before anything else.” Bowman later distanced himself from the term “Nazi” used in the memo, attributing it to his staff and condemning its imprecise usage.
In response to Bowman’s explanation, House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil (R-WI) dismissed it, asserting that Bowman’s excuse did not pass the “sniff test.” Steil highlighted that after pulling the fire alarm, Bowman had the opportunity to alert the U.S. Capitol Police to his mistake but did not do so. He commended the swift attention of the U.S. Capitol Police and encouraged the Ethics Committee to further investigate the matter.
The charges against Bowman came to light shortly after the GOP-led House elected Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) as its new speaker.