Tareq and Michaele Salahi, Virginia socialites, may now be the most infamous reality TV stars in Washington. The couple has made headlines for crashing a recent White House state dinner and shaking hands with President Obama. The couple apparently made it past several security checkpoints to gain access to the party, even though they weren’t on the guest list.

This wasn’t the Salahis’ first celebrity photo op: according to the Washington Post, the couple hobnobbed with the likes of Justice Anthony Kennedy (who spoke at their 2003 wedding), Prince Charles, and Oprah prior to their recent White House appearance. What’s more, Michaele Salahi is reportedly being considered as a contestant on Bravo’s new show Real Housewives of DC, and many are billing the couple’s White House appearance as a publicity stunt aimed at securing a spot on the show.

It’s hard to say whether the stunt paid off. On the one hand, it may be exactly publicity that fuels reality television ratings. On the other, the Secret Service and Republican and Democratic senators alike think the couple should be punished criminally for their act. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said that the Secret Service is “deeply concerned and embarrassed” over the incident. A Secret Service spokesman later said that the Service is investigating potential criminal charges. On Fox News Sunday, Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) agreed that the couple should be criminally prosecuted as a way of deterring others from attempting the same sort of behavior. Senator Bayh commented that getting this close to the President and Vice President is “not a laughing matter.”

Assuming the couple was not on the guest list, was this a harmless stunt akin to the antics in Wedding Crashers? Or should the couple be charged with trespass and threatening the President?

Spencer Compton

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