Producers believed they had invitation to state dinner
WASHINGTON – The couple who crashed a White House state dinner were being filmed that day by a camera crew connected with a reality television program, although none of the filming took place on White House grounds, a spokeswoman for the program’s network said Thursday.
The couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, gained access to the dinner President Barack Obama hosted for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, although they had not been invited, prompting a security review by the Secret Service, which acknowledged that procedures were not followed properly.
Bravo Media confirmed late Thursday that Michaele Salahi is being considered as a participant in the upcoming “The Real Housewives of D.C.” program and on the day of the dinner was being filmed around Washington by Half Yard Productions, the producer of the program.
“Half Yard’s cameras were not inside the White House. They filmed the couple preparing for the event,” Johanna Fuentes, vice president, communications, for Bravo Media, said in an e-mail. She said the Salahis “informed Half Yard that they were invited, the producers had no reason to believe otherwise.”
Fuentes referred further questions to the couple’s attorney and publicist.
The White House on Thursday refused comment on the Salahis and referred all calls to the Secret Service.
A Secret Service investigation of the security breach, now under way, will help determine whether the Salahis might be in some legal jeopardy, although the main focus of the review is to try to find out how someone could attend such a high-profile event on the South Lawn of the White House without having been invited.
Paul Morrison, a Virginia attorney who represented the couple in the past but has not spoken to them since the dinner, told the Associated Press earlier Thursday that they shouldn’t need legal help.
“They just went to a party. They didn’t do anything wrong,” Morrison said. “I know them. I’m unaware of any reason they need representation right now.”
Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said Obama was never in any danger because the Salahis went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people actually invited to the dinner.
Donovan said the officers at the checkpoint involved in clearance for the dinner did not follow proper procedure when the Salahis arrived and it was determined they had not been invited. But he declined to reveal anything the Secret Service knows about what happened next.
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