“Handling the press” took on an entirely new meaning at a recent fund raiser when aides for Vice President Joe Biden seized upon Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers and locked him in a closet to stop him from talking to guests.
The fundraiser took place at the home of Alan Ginsberg, a local developer who has supported candidates of both the Republican and Democratic parties. When he heard of the rough handling of Powers, Ginsburg expressed shock that such a thing happened under his roof and apologized to the reporter. The vice president’s office also offered a somewhat more tepid and, according to Powers, less satisfying policy.
The consequences for the vice president’s staff could be very severe. Under Florida law, they could be guilty of false imprisonment which is defined as “taking or holding someone against his or her will and without lawful authority.” False imprisonment is a lesser charge than kidnapping as it does not involve “hostage-taking, ransom, committing additional felonies, or an intent to harm or terrorize.” Nevertheless the crime is considered a third degree felony under Florida law and can bring a penalty of five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.
The consequences for the vice president and by extension the president and the Democratic Party could also be serious, albeit more in a political rather than legal sense, unless of course Powers chooses to pursue a civil action. One can safely say that it will be a long time before Ginsburg will ever hold a fund raiser for Democrats, especially if Vice President Biden is the featured speaker. Other potential donors will also take note. They will not want to expose themselves to the embarrassment of having potential crimes happen at events under their roofs or with which they are associated with.
Indeed, Vice President Biden and his staff seem to be guilty of doing to a reporter that is regularly condemned when a Third World dictator does it. Libya and before it Egypt were roundly condemned by the Obama administration for mistreating reporters. How embarrassing it must be to find out that officials who report to the Vice President of the United States are behaving much like minions of Moammar Gadhafi.
One thing is certain. No matter what former Vice President Dick Cheney’s feelings about the media are, he would not have thought about locking a reporter in a closet. Biden’s people seem to have no such qualms.
Sources: Vice President’s staff lock journalist in a closet for hours during a fundraiser to stop him talking to guests, Simon Neville, the Daily Mail, March 27, 2011
False Imprisonment and Kidnapping Charges, Joseph Divine, Ezine Articles, Feb 24, 2010