The White House website proudly says ‘President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history.’
But try telling Vice President Joe Biden’s staff that, after they held a local reporter in a closet for hours after he was invited to cover a Florida political fundraiser because they did not want him talking with the guests.
As the unaware $500-a-head invitees dined on caprese crostini with oven-dried mozzarella and basil, rosemary flatbread with grapes honey and gorgonzola cheese, grilled chicken Caesar and garden vegetable wraps, veteran reporter Scott Powers was locked away.
1st Amendment: Freedom of the press was stretched when VP Joe Biden's staff refused to let a reporter talk with guests at a fundraiser with Sen Bill Nelson
The Orlando Sentinel reporter was ushered into the closet inside wealthy property developer Alan Ginsburg’s Winter Falls mansion, after being told that Joe Biden and Senator Bill Nelson had not yet arrived.
They were due to speak to the audience to raise money for the 2012 elections.
He was told he could only come out when the politicians were ready to give their speeches.
Powers told The Drudge Report: ‘When I'd stick my head out, they'd say, “Not yet. We'll let you know when you can come out.”’
|Veteran reporter Scott Powers was locked in the closet for |
most of the event. He emailed from inside 'sounds
like a nice party'
After 90 minutes he was allowed out to hear Biden and Nelson speak for 35 minutes, before being taken back to the closet for the remainder of the event.
From inside his temporary prison Powers emailed his office from his cell phone: ‘Sounds like a nice party.’
When Ginsburg – who has supported both Democrat and Republican candidates in the past – learnt of the treatment that took place in his house, he called the reporter.
Powers said: ‘[Ginsburg] said he had no idea they'd put me in a closet and was very sorry.
‘He said he was just following their lead and was extremely embarrassed by the whole thing.’
But some guests were shocked by the Vice President’s staff.
One emailed the paper saying: ‘I was in attendance at the Fundraiser and enjoyed a nice lunch.
‘If I had known there was a reporter stuffed in the closet, I would have been compelled to stand up and demand answers.
‘I would also like to know if this is actually legal to treat people like caged animals. I’m disgusted by these actions.’
Florida state law says kidnapping entails ‘forcibly, secretly or by threat confining, abducting or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority.’
|Alan Ginsburg's home was awash with 150 guests - non of whom seemed to|
know Scott Power was being held guard in the closet
Powers said of his treatment: ‘It was frustrating and annoying that I was not given a chance to do my job fully and properly.
‘This was an extreme, and extremely inappropriate way of handling the press… it was essentially a rude and uncomfortable way to treat a reporter.’
He attempted to play down his treatment calling it ‘hardly unusual or shocking’ and confirmed that he received an apology from Ginsburg.
But the Vice President’s staff emailed him an apology which he said ‘I found far less satisfying than Ginsburg’s.’
The incident is especially embarrassing for the administration because it comes at a time when the White House has been condemning the treatment of journalists trying to report in Libya.
Just ten days ago, President Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: ‘journalists should be protected and allowed to do their work.’
The Vice President’s office did not respond to requests for comment.