Denver Post reporter Howard Pankratz breaks big news today in the Denver Three case. The Secret Service determined during its investigation of their ejection from President Bush’s social security talk last year that it was a White House staff member, not a volunteer who asked them to leave.
According to a Secret Service report obtained by the Denver Post under a Freedom of Information Act request, the agents present said it was “staff” who asked the individuals to leave, not them. When the trio – Les lie Weise, Alex Young and Karen Bauer – asked the agents why they had to leave, the agents said they had no control over the situation.
….In dozens of pages of documents, the investigation points to “the staff” as being the entity responsible for deciding who saw the president and who didn’t. The report also said there are two kinds of White House staff — local and Washington-based.
Two of the Denver Three have a civil lawsuit pending over their ejection from the event.
In their lawsuit, Weise and Young claim that White House event staffers Michael Casper and Jay Bob Klinkerman detained them and ejected them from the event at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. However, Casper and Klinkerman say they don’t need to reveal whom they worked for because of a “qualified immunity.”
Pankratz’s article is featured in Dan Froomkin’s column in today’s Washington Post. One reason it’s a national story is that the White House claimed that it was a volunteer, not a staffer, who ejected the three . From Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s April 27, 2005 press gaggle:
Q. …Is the White House encouraging people to screen or expel people from the President’s events based on their point of view?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me — and I think I’ve talked about this issue before. But, first of all, let me just walk back through it because I think that’s the best place to start. My understanding that a volunteer at this event — and let me — I need to back up before that. We use a lot of volunteers at events to help us in a number of different areas because you obviously have — you tend to have a lot of people come into the event, a lot of logistical support that you need, and so we do rely on volunteers to help in a lot of different ways at events.
Now, in terms of this issue, my understanding is a volunteer was concerned that these three individuals were coming to the event solely for the purpose of disrupting it. And if people are coming to the event to disrupt it, they are going to be asked to leave. There are always protest areas set up outside the events where people can express their views.
These three individuals acknowledged that they were coming to the event to disrupt it. They stated that publicly in some of the initial reports. And so my understanding is the volunteer was concerned about these individuals, and that’s why he asked them to leave.