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Biden Aide Apologizes After Reporter Kept in Storage Closet During Fundraiser

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Vice President Biden gestures while speaking at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Del., March 21. (AP)

The vice president's press secretary has apologized to a local political reporter after he was kept in a storage closet during a Florida fundraiser. 

Scott Powers, a reporter with the Orlando Sentinel, was relegated to the storage space during a fundraiser Wednesday for Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., apparently to prevent him from speaking to people before Vice President Biden showed up. The Orlando Sentinel published a brief account of the incident earlier in the week. 

Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander, responding to coverage of that account, said in a written statement Sunday that the decision to hold Powers there was a "mistake" and that the reporter has accepted her "unequivocal apology." The apology was made shortly after the fundraiser. 

"This was the unfortunate mistake of an inexperienced staffer and the vice president's office has made sure it will never happen again," she said. 

She explained that "hold rooms" are typically provided for pool reporters covering the vice president when he speaks at private homes. In this case, Biden was speaking at the home of a wealthy developer and the reporter was told to wait in a storage closet -- which Alexander said contained open space, as well as a table and chair where the reporter could work. She said the space was chosen because of its "close proximity" to the room where Biden was speaking. 

"A hold room, however, should not be a storage room," she clarified. 

The Sentinel originally reported that, while about 150 guests waited for Biden to arrive at the $500-a-head fundraiser, somebody from Biden's advance team ordered Powers to stay in the storage closet until Biden took the podium. 

To enforce the order, the staffer stood watch outside the door, according to the Sentinel, which posted a photo Powers took of his cluttered "temporary prison." 

Powers eventually left the closet to watch the vice president. He later sent out a lengthy report on his remarks to members of the media. The report itself did not mention the closet, saying only that "press coverage was limited to a single pool reporter, who was allowed to listen to the remarks but not given an opportunity to talk with anyone at the event." 

Powers later gave a more detailed account of what happened to The Drudge Report, saying he had to wait in the closet for about an hour and 15 minutes before emerging to hear Biden and Nelson speak.