Apparently Scott Powers was not the only reporter whom Joe Biden’s staffers put into a “holding room” to keep him from mingling with guests at a fund raiser. Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun recounts a similar experience in March 2010.
In Fenton’s case, the holding room was a little more comfortable than a storage closet, described as “a 5-by-8 foot, Asian-themed room with mirrors on the walls and family photos in small frames.”
While Fenton said in a tweet that he understood why Biden’s staff did not want a reporter listening in on private conversations at the fund raiser, he did suggest that maybe it would have been easier and more decorous all around for him to just show up at the time of the speaking program.
So far neither Powers nor Fenton is exploring legal options. Ed Morrissey, at Hot Air, is suggesting that nothing quite as dire as kidnapping occurred. But the Scott Powers incident does seem to resemble false imprisonment according to Florida law. The Fenton case was not kidnapping according to Maryland Law because Fenton was not carried off to another location. But like the Powers case, it might be construed as false imprisonment. If the matter were ever prosecuted, as seems currently unlikely, the vice president’s office would likely claim that both Powers and Fenton were free to leave at any time, but that they would have to have left the homes where the fund raisers were taking place.
Morrissey states that Vice President Biden has bought himself some political trouble because the behavior of his staff by sequestering reporters runs contrary to the “transparency” pledge. In 2008, during a private fundraiser in San Francisco, then Senator Barack Obama made his infamous “bitter clinger” remark to an audience of well heeled liberals, only to be outed by a blogger armed with nothing but a cell phone. Morrissey is of the opinion that the Biden staff was anxious to avoid a repeat of that incident.
In which case, though, why have a reporter at the event at all? Biden is certainly someone well prone to gaffes and any such delivered during the speech would likely have been reported by any journalist present. It seems that at the very least Biden’s staff was being overly paranoid and secretive. That the journalists thus mishandled seem reluctant to complain over much does not mitigate from the unseemliness of the incidents.
Sources: Biden Aides Lock Reporter in a Closet During Political Fundraiser, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, March 27, 2011
Is Biden’s closet packed with media skeletons? Reporter one of many to be ‘caged’ by VP, Chris Moody, The Daily Caller, March 28, 2011
Sheriff Joe’s jails? Ed Morrissey, Hot Air, March 28, 2011
Maryland Kidnapping/Abduction Laws, USLegal,Com