Biden Keeps Press in Closet at Event: 'They Gave Me a Bottle of Water and Shut the Door'

Saturday, 26 Mar 2011 07:27 PM

By David Wright

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Veteran reporter Scott Powers went to cover a fundraiser headlined by Vice President Joe Biden – and ended up being "imprisoned” in a closet by the veep’s staffers.

“They gave me a bottle of water and shut the door,” Powers said.

Although Biden's team has apologized, staffers merely said they were sorry they didn't have a better "hold room" for Powers.

The Orwellian incident happened on March 23 when Powers, 51, was assigned to be the pool reporter for Biden’s
Joe Biden, Fundraiser, Reporter, Scott Powers, Closet
Scott Powers' closet
fundraiser for Sen. Bill Nelson at the Orlando, Fla., home of developer and philanthropist Alan Ginsburg.

More than 150 guests had paid at least $500 a head to listen to speeches by Biden and Nelson. They enjoyed a buffet of caprese crostini with oven dried mozzarella and basil, rosemary flatbed with grapes, honey and gorgonzola cheese and bacon deviled eggs, followed by a lunch of grilled chicken Caesar.

Powers, a highly regarded veteran staff reporter on the Orlando Sentinel, arrived expecting, as usual, to be able to mingle and chat with the guests, many of whom he knew.

But he got a rude shock.

"One of Biden’s staffers, a young woman of about 23 or 24, met me at the door, led me through the party, then said, 'We want you to wait here until the vice president arrives,'" he told Newsmax.

"'Here’ was basically a storage closet. It was about 8 feet by 10 feet, with shelves full of stuff and boxes and baskets piled up all over the place. There was an old desk in one corner with files and papers all over it – and just enough room for one chair close by the door to sit on.

“They gave me a bottle of water and shut the door.

“I was puzzled, but assumed this was only going to last a few minutes. Instead, it went on for an hour and 15 minutes.

“I put my head out five or six times and asked what was going on, but each time another young woman staffer who was guarding the door told me, 'I’ll let you know when you can come out.'

“They were obviously waiting until Biden and Senator Nelson were actually on the podium — and didn’t want me to speak to a soul at the fundraiser.”

Powers was finally escorted out of the closet to listen to Biden's and Nelson's non-headline-making speeches.

“But as soon as the speeches finished, the female staffers escorted me back to the closet and told me, ‘You’ll have to wait here till the motorcade clears,’” he told Newsmax.

“Finally after another 15 minutes they let me out and walked with me to my car — making sure I was on my way.”

During his confinement, Powers took a picture of the crowded interior of the closet and emailed it to his editor.

“Should I have made a scene?” he wonders. “Maybe — but I was more concerned with thinking how the hell I was going to get a story without talking to people.

“As far as I’m concerned, Joe Biden is the first politician who’s kept reporters and fundraiser guests apart.”

Ironically, says Powers, he knew many of the well-heeled guests and would have had no problem talking to them.

And two days later, after news of the bizarre incident spread, he got a call from the embarrassed host of the fundraiser, Alan Ginsburg.

“He said he was very sorry — he had no idea I’d been confined in the closet,” Powers said.

Biden’s spokeswoman apologized after Newsmax and other outlets reported about the incident.

But instead of addressing the issue head on, Biden fell into campaign speak, calling the small closet a “hold room.”

"Scott — You have our sincere apologies for the lack of a better hold room today," wrote Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander.




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