The U.S. Secret Service on Monday said it was investigating the claims of three people who said they were removed from President Bush's town hall meeting on Social Security last week after being singled out because of a bumper sticker on their car.
The three said they had obtained tickets through the office of Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo., had passed through security and were preparing to take their seats when they were approached by what they thought was a Secret Service agent who asked them to leave.
One woman, Karen Bauer, 38, a marketing coordinator from Denver, said the agent put his hand on her elbow and steered her away from her seat and toward an exit.
"The Secret Service had nothing to do with that," said Lon Garner, special agent in charge of the Secret Service district office in Denver. "We are very sensitive to the First Amendment and general assembly rights as protected by the Constitution."
The Secret Service is in charge of protecting the president.
The three who were removed, along with their attorney, Dan Recht, met with Garner Monday. Recht said he may file a lawsuit based on the group's alleged violation of their First Amendment rights.
Garner said the group appeared confused as to who asked them to leave and declined to release further details, citing an ongoing investigation.
Alex Young, 25, an Internet technology worker from Denver who was among the three removed from the event March 17 at Wings over the Rockies, said officials told them the next day they were identified as belonging to the "No Blood for Oil" group.
Young said they belong to no such group, but the car they drove to the event had a bumper sticker that read: "No More Blood for Oil."
"I don't think a bumper sticker on a friend's car should disqualify me from seeing the president," Young said.
Beauprez distributed tickets to the event, which was part of President Bush's effort to gain support for his plan to overhaul Social Security. Messages left after-hours at Beauprez's office were not immediately returned Monday. A call to Bush's advance team in Denver went unanswered Monday afternoon.
This is hardly the first time this has happened, it happened many times during the prelude to the coronation, aka Election 2004, and it has happened several times during the Baboon-a-palooza Tour*.
*Credit to Holden at First Draft.
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