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Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who crashed US President Barack Obama's first state dinner, are peddling their story to broadcast networks for hundreds of thousands of dollars, a television executive said on Sunday.
The executive said representatives for Michaele and Tareq Salahi contacted networks to urge them to "get their bids in" for an interview. The executive said the Virginia couple was looking for a payment in the mid-six figures range.
Tareq Salahi, it was reported over the weekend, has been a senior figure at the American Task Force on Palestine, having been born in the US to a Palestinian immigrant family. The ATFP, which was recently addressed by National Security Adviser James Jones, supports "a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" based, among other principles, on two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, "living side by side in peace and security based on the borders of June 4, 1967 with mutually agreed upon territorial adjustments."
Writing for the Huffington Post online, veteran journalist Richard Chesnoff claimed Salahi "is a big wig on the board" of the ATFP lobby group, but said Salahi's biography, which used to feature on the ATFP list of board members, has suddenly become "almost impossible to find."
Two senators say authorities ought to pursue criminal charges against the Virginia couple.
Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana and Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona say their gate-crashing behavior should be strongly discouraged.
Meanwhile, CNN confirmed that the Salahis had canceled an appearance they had scheduled for "Larry King Live" on Monday.
Network news divisions say they don't pay for interviews. But for eagerly sought interviews in the past, they have offered to pay for access to exclusive material, such as pictures or videos from their subjects.
Representatives for the couple did not immediately return telephone and e-mail requests for comment.
Michaele Salahi is a reality TV hopeful trying to get on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of D.C." Her and her husband's success in getting into the state dinner last Tuesday without an invitation embarrassed the White House and Secret Service.
The agency acknowledged its officers never checked whether the couple were on the guest list before letting them onto the White House grounds. But it initially insisted Obama was never endangered by the security breach because the couple - like others at the dinner - had gone through magnetometers.
When it became clear the couple had interacted with Obama and US Vice President Joe Biden during the event, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan expressed concern and embarrassment. He said that while an investigation continues, the agency has taken measures to ensure the oversight is not repeated.
A White House photo showed the Salahis in the receiving line in the Blue Room with Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in whose honor the dinner was held. Obama and Michaele Salahi are smiling as she grasps his right hand with both of hers and her husband looks on. Singh is to Obama's left.
On Saturday, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-NY, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called for a review of Secret Service practices and asked for a briefing this week.
Agency spokesmen declined to comment on reports that agents had visited the Salahis' vineyard in Hume, Virginia, in search of the couple. Voice-mail messages left Saturday at two separate telephone numbers for the Oasis Winery, south of Washington, were not immediately returned.
It is unclear what the couple told officers at the checkpoint who let them through the security screening. The Salahis lawyer, Paul Gardner, posted a comment on their Facebook page saying his clients were cleared by the White House to be at the dinner.