Carlos Allen says he was invited to state dinner; his name wasn't on guest list

The third gate-crasher at November's White House state dinner turns out to be a local event planner who got in with members of the Indian delegation.
By Amy Argetsinger and Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A lawyer for the alleged "third crasher" says his client went to the White House state dinner after receiving an invitation in the mail and stayed for the dinner, contrary to official claims.

A. Scott Bolden, a veteran Washington defense attorney with the firm Reed Smith, did not provide details about how Carlos Allen came to attend nor did he provide evidence of an invitation. The Secret Service is investigating because Allen was not on the official guest list.

Allen, 39, is publisher of a fledgling online society magazine whose party house has drawn complaints from his Mount Pleasant neighbors. As it happens, he also once socialized with Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the original unexpected White House guests.

On Monday, six weeks after the Salahis triggered an international scandal by crashing the state dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Secret Service divulged that a third person also made it in without credentials: a man whom sources later identified to The Post as Carlos Allen. His appearance at the Nov. 24 event -- arriving with the official Indian delegation that had been screened by the State Department, according to the agency -- exposed a new area of weakness in White House security separate from that revealed by the Salahis, who walked in with authorized attendees through the main entrance.

Allen initially denied to reporters that he had attended the dinner or that he was the man being investigated. But on Tuesday, his lawyer acknowledged that Allen had indeed gone to the White House and that he was cooperating with the federal investigation.

Bolden also said his client -- unlike the Salahis, who merely mingled at the pre-dinner reception -- had stayed for the dinner. He would not offer details on what connections Allen had that might have helped him secure an invitation. "As far as he knew he was invited and he was supposed to be there, and no one treated him any differently," Bolden said. "He clearly vehemently denies being a gate-crasher."

The White House has declined to comment on Allen, instead referring to the Secret Service statement describing him as an individual "not on the White House guest list," who, unlike other Indian delegation members, was not processed through the computer system.

The Indian Embassy continued to insist that it had nothing to do with helping Allen get into the White House and that he was "not known" to the embassy.

"We did not seek or facilitate any access for this person," said spokesman Rahul Chhabra. He did confirm that the embassy asked the State Department to add several Indian businessmen -- who were on the dinner guest list -- to the official delegation of diplomats traveling from the Willard Hotel to the White House.

The Secret Service said Allen accompanied the business leaders; an administration official said five diplomats and seven executives were in the van.

Bolden described Allen as publisher of HushSocietyMagazine, which he said profiles the philanthropic pursuits of "the rich and powerful," denying The Post's description of him as a party promoter. The parties Allen throws, Bolden said, are in conjunction with his magazine. "He is not a party promoter, he's an entrepreneur, and his site gets several thousand hits a month."

Allen's event space, on 18th Street NW in Mount Pleasant, goes by the name Hush (Help Us Support Humanity) House, and was registered as a business in the District in 2005, according to records from the city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. It has hosted prominent fundraisers, including one by the Congressional Black Caucus, for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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