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Questions for the Homeland Security Committee Witnesses

5 years ago
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I have some questions for Paul Gardner, attorney for the world's most famous uninvited guests.

Although his credulous clients' "Gee, I thought we were invited" posture seems almost genuine regarding their drop-in on the president's party last week, I get the impression the Howard Law School graduate played a role in getting Mr. and Mrs. Salahi through the White House's East Entrance. The Baltimore lawyer has been linked through Facebook to a Defense Department official whose e-mail correspondence reportedly led the couple to believe they could attend the state dinner a week ago. Gardner, who advertises on MySpace, also shares the services of their publicist, Mahogany Jones.

Tareq and Michaele, in their seven-minute chat with Matt Lauer Tuesday morning, told NBC's "Today" show viewers the Gardner Law Group got them into that September formal dinner hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. (Organizers say the Salahis had not been invited.) Bravo cameras were also allegedly involved.

As an aside, I actually think there are situations when it is perfectly acceptable to crash an event without a "ticket," especially in Washington, where parties and fund-raising are regularly merged into co-existing photo opportunities. I also sometimes tag along to private celebrations with mutual friends who are indeed expected. (Years ago, in just such a way, I crashed a sit-down dinner in New York on New Year's Eve at the home of a young media executive. He graciously sat me next to Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who brings Big Bird to life.) That said, when I manage to finagle myself into such lovely gatherings, manners require I bring an appropriate hostess gift and be a modest and model guest in every way.

There is a very bright line that dictates when it is not OK to crash a political gathering. Usually that delineation involves background checks. In venues where a security clearance is mandatory, such as the White House, it is a political fact of life that if you're not on the list, you can't go in.

Getting back to Gardner's law group, the entertainment-industry clients listed on the firm's Web site include the hip-hop band OutKast (whom they "successfully represented" against "alleged trademark and publicity violations," during "the Rosa Parks affair") and the recording artist L.O.S.(for whom they scored a "major record distribution deal with . . . Sean 'Diddy' Combs"). Covering the full spectrum of entertainment services, the firm also defended another "Reality TV Star" (from "Making the Band 2") over an armed robbery charge in Baltimore County.

In the case of the blonde in the sari and her escort, a congressional oversight panel will predictably be convened this week to look into their recent visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan will testify.

Though the Salahis were coy with Lauer about whether they will attend, they should know the House Homeland Security Committee has subpoena power to compel witnesses who do not RSVP their invitations. (Good news: I'm sure in this case, +1's will be allowed.)

I'd like to see committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson and ranking member Peter King also bring Gardner to the witness table to explain what legal services he provided. And while the lawmakers are collecting official statements, they might want to get one from Bravo executives (bring the footage!) too.

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