WASHINGTON — An unpaid $10 parking ticket cost Kenneth Ryan James his job as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs.

WASHINGTON — An unpaid $10 parking ticket cost Kenneth Ryan James his job as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs.


James, 41, was suspended without pay after Westerman learned that James had a warrant for his arrest over his failure to address the unpaid ticket. On Monday, the two agreed to part company.


James has since resolved the legal issue — paying his fine and having the bench warrant removed.


"Upon analyzing it and discussing it, we decided it would be best for him to leave. We agreed it would be a big distraction which wouldn’t allow me to represent the people of the Fourth District as effectively," Westerman said in an interview Monday at his Capitol office.


James said Monday in a telephone interview that he had resigned.


"I didn’t want to be a distraction to what he is doing in Congress," he said. "I apologize not only to him but the rest of the staff."


James was driving the congressman, his wife and another staffer from DeQueen to Hot Springs on Thursday, Feb. 21, when he was pulled over in Pike County for allegedly speeding. The state trooper also cited James for driving with a suspended license, and advised him that a bench warrant had been issued for his arrest around Feb. 11.


James received a $10 parking ticket in Hot Springs on Dec. 4, 2014 and had not paid it. He failed to appear in court over the unpaid ticket, which led to the bench warrant and the suspended license. James told Westerman he had no knowledge of the suspended license or bench warrant, which were issued after he moved recently from Little Rock to Washington, D.C.


After the speeding stop, Westerman took the wheel and drove the group to Hot Springs. James went to district court and paid the parking ticket. The court was offering an amnesty program that week which allowed James to pay the fine without further fines or punishment. The amnesty program also wiped out the warrant for his arrest, according to Westerman’s office.


James was put on unpaid leave that Saturday. He agreed to leave his job Monday.


"It’s an unfortunate situation for him but it is something that can’t be overlooked," Westerman said. "Obviously, he is a talented guy that enjoys political work and I wish him the best as he moves on."


James was hired as chief of staff in January and had served as Westerman’s campaign manager. Before that he was a political advisor and consultant to a number of Republican clients, including Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and former Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock.