Want To Ask Obama About Electric Cars? Don't Tell The Press

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Barack Obama speaking Detroit Economic Club

Barack Obama speaking Detroit Economic Club

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Paul Scott may be one of the most dedicated electric-car advocates around.

He sells Nissan Leafs for a living, and helped found advocacy group Plug-In America.

A few weeks ago, he had a brilliant idea.

Scott used a significant chunk of his life savings for a ticket to a pricey Barack Obama fundraiser, being held this Friday in Santa Monica, California.

It would give him the chance to tell the president how important plug-in electric cars are to the country's energy future and national security, and to the planet's long-term ecological heatlh.

Scott's mistake was that he talked about his plan to the media--stories appeared in USA Today, among other outlets--which didn't sit well with the Democratic National Committee.

Especially after conservative bloggers caught wind of the story.

This isn't just any fundraiser, mind you: The "exclusive, off-the-record" event has a range of five-figure prices that come with a variety of perks.

The top tier, at $32,400, offers "an official photograph with President Obama, as well as a very special one-hour roundtable discussion with the President after the luncheon."

That, for Scott, was the lure: During the "intimate" event, the president will "take your questions in a private, off-the-record conversation where you can discuss with him what you'd like."

There were only 25 slots available at that level. Scott dug into his life savings and bought one.

But as writer Jim Motavalli noted on Mother Nature Network, Scott received an e-mail on Monday that disinvited him from the fundraiser he'd paid to attend.

Thanking Scott for his advocacy, the note highlighted his sin. The media attention, it said, had become a distraction.

It should be noted that Obama is already on record, from 2007 through today, as a proponent of plug-in electric vehicles.

President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

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His goal of 1 million such vehicles on U.S. roads by the end of 2015 seems unlikely to be met, but a number of his administration's policy initiatives have promoted plug-in vehicles.

Those include Federal income-tax credits for the purchase of such vehicles, further credits for installation of charging equipment, and quite a few other initiatives.

Obama also drove a Chevrolet Volt a few feet in the Detroit-Hamtramck factory where it's built (the Secret Service doesn't allow the president to drive), and said he would buy a Volt at the end of his term.

But the moral of the story seems to be that if you want to lobby the president for anything, you need to do it quietly.

Otherwise the party apparatus might get nervous that someone would notice that such lobbying occurs.



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Comments (12)
  1. Scott got the attention he wanted for his cause.I just think he was trying to get a little glamour for himself more then the cause.This is not how it is done and for good reason because it shouts of special interest concerns .In the end this is a non story by somebody who maybe a bit of a fanatic.

  2. I know Scott and don't believe he did it for that. He's honest, and maybe in this case, a little too honest.

  3. Paul was definitely not attempting to get any glamour for himself. If you know anything about him you would know it's not his style. He was spending a lot of personal money to do what he felt would help the cause he has spent many years supporting. If he had this to do over I bet he would have tempered his enthusiasm a bit and kept quiet. Paul isn't familiar with participating in these type of political events and he just didn't think it through first, he was just so excited about getting the opportunity to have the Presidents ear.

  4. Wow, that is almost criminal. I hope he got his money refunded. If not he should sue. That would be a media event, they should avoid at all costs! Maybe he should sue anyway, just for being "dis-invited".

  5. If he was "dis-invited" he would of course receive a refund. This was a fundraiser for fat cats. No one has a legal right to attend a private fundraiser.

    That being said, Mr. Scott certainly got noticed, and that appears to be his primary intent. So on that point, he got a lot of press for no payment.

  6. This article does not mention if they gave him his money back. If they did not, I'd be screaming from the rafters. If they did, I'd be relieved.

  7. Pay to play, but if you're only kicking in $35k, do it very quietly!!! DNC = Scumbags?

  8. All political parties suck, all politicians suck. This is not news.

  9. For the record, the DNC said they would return the money. All I cared about was getting the economic story of EV/RE told to as many people as possible. Bending Obama's ear was icing on the cake, I really did want to meet the man. But the important thing is not the $32,500, it's the $80 billion we spend on military protection for oil, it's the $700 billion we spend every year for oil, money that could be more productively spent creating millions of jobs.

    Throw in the Iraq war, billions in health costs and billions more for environmental damage and you start to see why replacing oil with renewable energy is so important.

    We need Obama's request for the $7,500 credit increased to $10,000, and make it a point of sale rebate.

  10. You're a legend for having a go and the guts to pursue something you believe in.

    Although being dis-invited was not what you had in mind, in my opinion, the unintended publicity given to the EV cause has been enormous and spread world wide, including down under where I am located. It probably will have a positive effect for EVs.

  11. Who Killed the Electric Car discussion? :)

  12. If the President was serious about promoting Plug In Hybrid EV's, then why not encourage (require?) the White House staff and others in his administration to drive Plugin Hybride EV's. BTW $32,500 price tag for the fund raiser would have gone a long way in purchasing a Chevrolet Volt or a Nissan Leaf.

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