Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post, citing a Fox News article by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, updates us on the “Denver Three” incident, and raises the issue of whether the White House was behind the ouster of three Denver activists from Bush’s Social Security Speech in Denver. First, the Fox article:
“There is an active campaign underway to try and disrupt and disturb his events in hopes of undermining his objective of fixing Social Security,â€? White House spokesman Trent Duffy told FOXNews.com. “If there is evidence there are people planning to disrupt the president at an event, then they have the right to exclude those people from those events.â€?Advertisement
….Duffy said the White House sends advance teams to deal with logistics for any official event. These teams typically handle the screening for speakers and audience members who will be sitting with or addressing the president during the event. They also keep an eye on the crowds for possible troublemakers. …. “There are steps being taken to ensure the president has a degree of order at these events,” he said. “I think the president of the United States deserves to have a level of respect when he holds town meetings or any other forum.â€?
Spokespersons for both Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Bob Beauprez criticized the ouster of the activists.
So is Duffy admitting that the person who ejected the “Denver Three” was operating under White House orders? That would be news.
Judging from complaints at other events, described further on in Vlahos’ article, it stands to reason that the White House was behind the ouster of the Denver Three:
Complaints about audience choreography were also prevalent during the presidential campaign. Numerous reports described how attendees to Bush rallies were turned away for wearing pro-John Kerry T-shirts and stickers. The New York Times reported in September that in order to ensure tickets for the event, people were encouraged to do volunteering for the local Bush campaign.
A week before a Bangor, Maine, event in which fist lady Laura Bush was scheduled to campaign for her husband, the paper reported that ticket seekers were asked to fill out questionnaires, stating home and e-mail addresses, Social Security numbers and pledges of support for the president.
As to First Amendment implications, Colorado Luis asks:
Is it OK for a president to outsource security for what otherwise would be a public event, and then claim that because the event was being run by a private organization it is a “private event” and the First Amendment does not apply? If the Denver Three decides to take the inevitable abuse that would come from being the plaintiffs in a case to test this theory (and the misrepresentations about them have already started) I’d consider them true heroes of democracy.