Fact Check

Barack Obama's Parking Tickets

In 2007, Barack Obama belatedly paid parking tickets accumulated while he was a student at Harvard?

Published Jul 25, 2009

Claim:   In 2007, Barack Obama belatedly paid parking tickets accumulated while he was a student at Harvard.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2009]

As first reported in March 2007 by the Somerville Times. Harvard law student Barack Obama accumulated 17 unpaid parking tickets between 1989-1991 - and never paid the fines ad associated penalties totaling $375 until a few weeks before announcing his presidential campaign.

True or false?


Origins:   In March 2007, the Associated Press and other news outlets (relaying information from the Somerville News) reported that Barack Obama had two months earlier (just a few weeks before announcing his candidacy for president) paid $375 to settle 15 outstanding parking tickets (plus late fees) accumulated while attending Harvard Law School in the late 1980s:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got more than an education when he attended Harvard Law School in the late 1980s. He also got a healthy stack of parking tickets, most of which he never paid.

The Illinois Senator shelled out $375 in January — two weeks before he officially launched his presidential

campaign — to finally pay for 15 outstanding parking tickets and their associated late fees.

Obama received 17 parking tickets in Cambridge between 1988 and 1991, mostly for parking in a bus stop, parking without a resident permit and failing to pay the meter, records from the Cambridge Traffic, Parking and Transportation office show.

He incurred $140 in fines and $260 in late fees in Cambridge in all, but he paid $25 for two of the tickets in February 1990.

A spokesperson for the then-senator acknowledged at the time that Barack Obama had indeed cleared up some overdue parking violations:

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, dismissed the tickets as not relevant.

"He didn't owe that much and what he did owe, he paid," Psaki said. "Many people have parking tickets and late fees. All the parking tickets and late fees were paid in full."

Last updated:   25 July 2009


    Colby, Edward B.   "Obama's Parking Tickets: Who Cares?"

    Chicago Sun-Times.   11 March 2007   (p. B5).

    Associated Press.   "Obama Pays Parking Tickets 17 Years Late."

    USA Today.   7 March 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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