White House staffers directed two men serving as bouncers at a 2005 Denver appearance by President Bush to eject three activists from the public event, the bouncers said under oath today.
It was the first time in the long-running controversy over the barring of the so-called "Denver Three" from the Bush event that specific White House officials have been named as having been involved in the ejection.
The paid White House staff members were identified in sworn depositions as Jamie O'Keefe, who was lead advance staffer for the appearance, and Steve Atkiss, White House trip director, attorneys said after the depositions today in federal court in Denver.
The bouncers were being questioned in a lawsuit claiming three activists were kicked out of the public event for political reasons.
[..]The suit, filed with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, claims Bush volunteers violated their free-speech constitutional rights.
[..][The Bush administration has run into similar trouble elsewhere after critics were ejected from Bush appearances.
People in North Dakota complained they'd been put on a list of guests who should not be allowed to enter an event in 2005. And the ACLU filed a case on behalf of two West Virginia residents arrested in 2004 after refusing to remove anti-Bush T-shirts at a Bush campaign event.
The ACLU has looked into whether there was a pattern of illegally preventing critics from speaking at Bush public forums.
The Denver Three case could set a precedent for how exclusive a White House event can be. During the administration of the elder President Bush in the early 1990s, a federal court of appeals in Missouri held that White House staffers can exclude people from presidential events if those running the event believe the people are likely to be disruptive.