Paul Scott, 60, was willing to do just about anything to get President Obama’s ear for a few minutes about his lifelong passion for electric vehicles.
So the car salesman raised $32,000 by taking out money on credit cards and liquidating stock that constituted much of his life savings to attend a June 7 Democratic National Committee fundraiser the president plans to attend in California.
The only problem: He blogged about it. And the ensuing publicity prompted the DNC to say thanks but no thanks to his contribution.
“An average person off the street, what are the chances that they would get an opportunity to sit down for a few minutes and talk to the president on an important issue?” Scott asked ABC News as he drove his solar-powered electric vehicle to work today. “There’s zero chance of that.
“I just happened to mention it out loud. I didn’t know there were unwritten rules about this,” he said. “In my naivete, I said, ‘Wow, I get a chance to talk to the president.’”
Scott said that if it were not for a “right wing” effort to misconstrue his donation as an effort to “buy access” to the president, there would not have been any problems with his plan to attend the fundraiser.
He is a “big supporter” of Obama and has donated hundreds to Democrats in the past but was willing to put it all on the line for a chance to bring attention to an issue to which he has devoted his entire life.
Scott, who now works at a Nissan dealership in downtown Los Angeles, has been driving a solar-powered electric car for 10 years.
“I, and thousands of other Americans, have been practicing solutions to these seemingly intractable problems by driving electric vehicles on renewable energy,” Scott wrote in his editorial, which was posted online and, according to Scott, sent to several newspaper editorial boards. “I want to tell Obama about the economic benefits of this transition away from oil during his visit to Santa Monica to raise money for the Democratic Party.”
Not long after the letter was posted on the Internet, the DNC informed Scott that his money would be sent back.
“Folks who make the decision to contribute to the Democratic National Committee are choosing to support our programs that help promote the president’s agenda and Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, not as a way to gain access as the media attention your contribution has garnered has implied,” wrote Jordan Kaplan, the DNC’s national finance director.
“These issues are critical for the future of our country, and President Obama shares your passion and sense of urgency on these matters,” Kaplan added.
But Scott said that the arrangement – pay $32,000 for an opportunity to talk to the president about any issue – was heavily advertised by the event organizers.
“It was in the newspaper, for crying out loud,” Scott said. “I thought why would I have concerns about talking about it. I don’t get this. Why is everybody so upset about it?
“Did you not know that they raised money?” he asked.