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.

Imagine.

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