Published November 26, 2009
They just love a good party.
That's what an attorney to Michaele and Tareq Salahi said a day after the Secret Service found that the Virginia couple crashed Tuesday's White House state dinner in an alleged security breach.
Paul Morrison, a Virginia attorney who has represented the couple on other matters, said Thursday that the Salahis "didn't do anything wrong."
"They just went to a party...I know they enjoy a good party. They're just good people," he said in an interview with the Associated Press, adding that he "can't imagine" why the Salahis would be in legal trouble.
The Secret Service is investigating its own security procedures after determining that the socialite couple managed to slip into the White House dinner even though they were not on the guest list, agency spokesman Ed Donovan said.
President Obama was never in any danger because the party crashers went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people actually invited to the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Donovan said.
Donovan confirmed the identities of the couple. In a statement issued late Wednesday, Donovan said the agency has "tasked our Office of Professional Responsibility with conducting a comprehensive review of the incident which occurred at the White House State Dinner last night."
"Initial findings identified a Secret Service checkpoint which did not follow proper procedures to ensure that the two individuals named in a Washington Post story were on the invited guest list," he said.
The Salahis are a fixture in Washington's elite social circles. The couple founded America's Polo Cup and were reportedly being considered for the Bravo reality TV show "Real Housewives of D.C."
In an interview with the "CBS Early Show" in September, she said, "President Obama has made it very accessible for anyone to visit the White House, so that's like a big thing right now."
The CBS interview was part of a segment on potential candidates for "Real Housewives of D.C." but never was aired.
The Secret Service learned about the security breach Wednesday after a media inquiry prompted by the Salahis' online boasts about having attended the private event, Donovan said.
"I was honored to be invited to attend the First State Dinner hosted by President Obama and the First Lady to honor India," Michaele Salahi wrote Wednesday in a posting on Facebook. Her profile page on the social networking site is adorned with pictures of the couple at the state dinner, standing alongside Vice President Joe Biden, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, CBS News anchor Katie Couric and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.
Donovan would not comment on whether the couple had been contacted by the Secret Service, how long they were on the White House grounds or other details of the investigation.
The Washington Post reported that the Salahis could face a potential trespassing charge unless someone from inside the White House staff slipped them in.
Donovan would not comment on possible legal violations.
"It's important to note that they went through all the security screenings -- the magnetometer screening -- just like all the other guests did," Donovan said in his statement. And, he added, Obama and others under Secret Service protection had their usual security details with them at the dinner.
The Salahis are no strangers to controversy. The couple reportedly is involved in a long-running ownership dispute with Tareq Salahi's parents over the Oasis Winery in Hume, Va., which has filed for bankruptcy. Salahi took his mother's attorney to court last year after accusing him of punching him. The lawyer was found not guilty.
The couple also is being sued by a caterer who claims they failed to pay a bill for services rendered at their polo organization.
Fox News' Wendell Goler and the Associated Press contributed to this report.