Psst: Wanna buy Barack Obama’s email address?

By Peter Scheer

What would you pay to have President Obama’s new private (and secure) email address?

Two weeks ago I wrote in this space about efforts by Barack Obama’s aides to get him to surrender his Blackberry, on which Obama had relied to escape the bubble that descends on leading presidential contenders, not to mention elected presidents. I argued that the aides’ concerns about legal and security constraints were overblown and urged Obama to keep the Blackberry—and to use it, while President, to stay in touch with ordinary citizens.

I am not at liberty to reveal how I know that President Obama read my article, which was reprinted in several publications. Suffice it to say that I am now in possession of the Chief Executive’s new, private email address, the one reserved for family members and close personal friends. (Two additional email addresses have been created for use by, respectively, Cabinet level officials and campaign supporters who contributed $200,000 and above.)

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t betray a confidence, especially a presidential confidence. But these are, as we know, “challenging” times, not least for the California First Amendment Coalition (“CFAC”), a cash-strapped nonprofit working overtime to defend freedom of speech and the public’s right to know about its government. Besides, President Obama is a big proponent of open government, as shown by his recent pronunciamento on the Freedom of Information Act. He will, I’m sure, understand that extreme measures in the defense of government accountability are no vice (to paraphrase a rather less successful presidential candidate).

Accordingly, I have decided to divulge Obama’s private friends-and-family email address, the one that reaches him on his belt-mounted Blackberry, to the 3 (three) persons or entities making the largest contributions to CFAC by midnight (PT) January 31, 2009. Contributions, which are tax-deductible (except for lobbyists and associates of Bernard Madoff, who should consult their accountants), can be made at our website. Winners will be kept confidential (unless they are celebrities, in which case we may not be able to resist leaking their names to the press.)

Please contribute early and often. Even if you don’t appreciate my vaguely demented sense of humor (yes, yes, I’m only kidding about auctioning off Obama’s email), protecting your–our– First Amendment rights is no joke. Give generously.
Peter Scheer is executive director of CFAC. You can email him at: