Ralph Isenberg Won't Be Talking to the President Tonight After All. Disinvited!
That didn't take long: Less than two hours after posting that item about Ralph Isenberg and his intention to speak with President Obama this evening about the case of Saad Nabeel, Isenberg called Unfair Park to say it's off. According to Isenberg, one day after his Saturday chat with the Texas Civil Rights Review, he got a call from Valerie Chraca at the D.C.-based Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- which is charging $10,000 a plate for the eat-and-meet with the president at Russell Budd's Highland Park home -- telling him he'd been "tagged by the White House," and that his invite was being rescinded.
"They took my money, and then, no invite and no explanation," Isenberg tells Unfair Park. Isenberg, who last week made it known he's taken up Nabeel's plight, also sent us his proof of purchase -- the invite and a copy of his American Express credit card receipt. The charge appeared on his card Thursday.
"So, let's see: I make it public I am going to talk to the president with my minute or two -- or 30 seconds, whatever I was going to get -- about this deported kid and how bad he's got it," says Isenberg, a lifelong Democrat who, in the past, has hosted several Democratic functions -- including Hillary Clinton's visit to Oak Cliff in February 2008 and an Eddie Bernice Johnson fund-raiser as his own home.
"Then The New York Times breaks this big national story coincidentally in which the administration says, 'Gee, we're nice about immigration -- we're not deporting kids, see?' Then they find out they've got someone who wants to talk about a kid who'd been deported -- whose story is on the front page of Der Spiegel at this very moment -- and how do we solve it. So what do they do? 'Let's un-invite the guy.' And that's what's happened.The damnedest thing."
I've left several messages on Chraca's voice mail. She has not returned calls. I also called Camellia Meehan at the DSCC. Her name's on the invite -- she's the RSVP contact. The woman who answered her phone says Meehan's not available, and, sorry, but she can't answer my questions.
Update at 1:57 p.m.: Deirdre Murphy, the DSCC's national press secretary, just called to say: "We do not comment on private fund-raising events."
I also spoke twice with Colin Milligan, the DSCC's deputy press secretary, who said both times he'd try to find someone to call me back. In the meantime, Unfair Park's calls to the White House press office were directed to the Democratic National Committee, which said, sorry, but you have to call the DSCC.
Isenberg says Domingo Garcia's the one who initially asked him if he wanted to go tonight. Isenberg says Garcia, who couldn't be reached for comment, put him in touch with Chraca, who took his details -- chiefly, his credit card info and other info needed for security clearance -- then called him back "to say where it'll be, what time to show up." Then, Isenberg says, he received a formal invite via e-mail. "And they processed my credit card for 10 grand," he adds. "I guess someone in D.C.'s watching what everyone's saying."
Word from D.C. is the DSCC is refunding Isenberg's $10 thou.