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The Salahis and Journey: A video (and lawsuit) to remember

Before they gained fame for infiltrating the White House, Tareq and Michaele Salahi had a local reputation for their messy lawsuits, name-dropping and energetic promotion of their polo tournament. All three converged in 2007 with one very special VIP photo op: A video they shot with veteran rockers Journey.

It shows the Salahis in happier times, preparing to launch their first America's Polo Cup with a match between U.S. and British teams and a concert by Journey. Virginia officials had recognized the tournament as part of that year's Jamestown anniversary celebration; they had not yet been wracked by complaints of unpaid bills and tax irregularities for the Salahis' affiliated charity, Journey for the Cure.

The video shows the couple grinning broadly at the camera. "Thank you all for supporting America's 400th anniversary, the journey that changed the world!" says Michaele. Tareq offers, "Cheers to our U.K. friends and partners" and praise for "the principles of freedom and democracy." And then, as the camera pulls back, there's the band, surrounding the Salahis.

"Happy Birthday, America!" they all say in unison. "It's time to rock America like it's never been rocked. Whoo!"

Good times. How did it end up in court? Local PR exec Steve Winter told us he worked pro bono for the polo match in '07, happily. But in 2008, signed on as a paid publicist, he claims the Salahis went behind his back to set up competing media deals that voided the exclusives he'd arranged. Then they stiffed him on half his bill, he claims. But before he could sue them ... they sued him, for losing the original outtakes of their Journey video.

They sought $65,000 in damages -- the cost, they said, of their trip to meet with Journey. In Falls Church General District Court, Michaele told Winter's lawyer the video was worth $1 million. (The Salahis lawyers declined to comment.)

"Journey? From late-period Journey?" asked Jeff Krulik, local filmmaker and rock-collectibles expert. "They have a fine place in rock-and-roll history ... but there's no market for that." Krulik was prepared to say just that, in testimony supporting Winter -- but the judge threw both cases out of court. (Winter's attorney is appealing his case.)

By The Reliable Source  |  December 7, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
Categories:  White House crashers  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Surreal Estate: Shawne Merriman selling D.C. condo
Next: Read this: Kennedy Center Honors, latest Salahi and Secret Service news


So the Salahi's play the suing game too. My oh my. Where will we find them next?

Whether these people are pretenders, grifters, con artists, whatever, what is telling is all the people who did business with them without checking their backgrounds. Dealing with people or companies which have lawsuits against those them employed in the past, or suits involving non-payment, should be a red flag to any reputable business planning to do business. It seems the Salahi's reputation was well known. So why did so many people and companies do business with them anyway?

If this teaches anyone a lesson it is to ignore the smiles and hype and dig into anyone's business and legal background before signing a contract or entering into a business relationship.

Posted by: Fate1 | December 7, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Man, that video was horrible and full of awkward pauses.

Posted by: ilsh127 | December 7, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The first Polo Cup is not the first instance of the Salahis stiffing the little guys. Their legal history is a matter of public record.

It sounds like the judge who threw out Winter's case was either tugging his forelock to these "beautiful people", or just plain didn't do his homework.

Posted by: laboo | December 7, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

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