Woman fighting federal government over ticket at park

by: Maria Guerrero Updated:


TACOMA, Wash. - An Olympic Peninsula woman is fighting the federal government.

She's still angry over the government shutdown.  Her reason?  She got a ticket for parking at Olympic National Park.

Wednesday, she went to court to declare that she's not going to pay a dime.

 Fresh out of federal court, Leanne Potts of Sequim isn’t backing down from challenging the U.S. government.

 "I don't think that I deserve the ticket in the first place," said Potts on Wednesday morning.

On October 12, she found a sign at Olympic National Park that read, "Because of the government shutdown this national park service facility is closed."

For 16 days in October, the federal government shut down, closing all national parks, including Olympic.

People were angry, someone even spray-painted “nature should be free” on barriers.

 "It shouldn't be closed," said one man at the time.

 Yet, most obeyed and stayed out.

But a handful of others, including Potts, didn’t.

She went ahead with a friend intending to hike, not because she was taking a stand against the shutdown, but because she was confused.

 "I thought it meant the bathrooms, the ranger stations," said the 32-year-old of the sign. "The wording on the sign was confusing. If it had said "Do not enter" or "No entry" there's no way I would have gone."

 Port Angeles teacher Kelly Sanders also got cited after taking a group of international students on a hike in the park.

She, too, said she would fight the ticket for the same reasons.

But Sanders told Potts and the Peninsula Daily News she decided not to challenge her ticket because it would require several trips to Tacoma and days off work, according to the paper.

 "That's fine. I'm going to do it," responded Potts.

 Potts pleaded not guilty to the violation of closure ticket and said she looks forward to her day in court in March.

 Potts faces a fine of up to $5,000.

 She said she will testify in March and so will a friend who was with her but did not get ticketed, since Potts was driving.