Outspoken contributor snubbed by Obama

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on August 9, 2010 at 10:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 10 at 8:28 PM

DALLAS — At least one person who paid his $10,000  to eat and mingle with President Obama in Dallas Monday evening did not show up.

Dallas businessman Ralph Isenberg says he was told by political organizers not to appear, and he believes he knows why.

Isenberg has never been afraid to speak his mind.

Not as Dallas Plan Commissioner; not as a Park Board member; and not now as an advocate for immigrant children facing deportation.

Most recently, he has focused on the case of 19-year-old Saad Nabeel, a native of Bangladesh, a prospective UTA and SMU scholarship student, who was deported this year after 16 years in the U.S. and in the Dallas area.

Isenberg paid $10,000 last week to have dinner — and perhaps get an audience — with Obama to discuss Nabeel's case.

"I had been told that if you spend this kind of money, there's going to be a line, and you are going to have one to two minutes to say your piece," Isenberg said.  "So I was getting ready to say my piece."

On Saturday, Isenberg's intentions were published in an article in the Texas Civil Rights Review.

Then on Sunday, his hopes of visiting with Obama about Nabeel's case were dashed.

"I get this frantic call from Washington saying, 'Mr. Isenberg, you've been flagged,'" Isenberg said.

The representative from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee who was handling the Obama fundraiser declined to tell Isenberg or News 8 what being "flagged" meant, other than that he was no longer welcome to attend.

"I'm not saying that the President of the United States is censoring me," said Isenberg. "But what I am saying is, somebody on his staff doesn't want the man to deal with the realities, and the reality is we've got kids like this all over the nation that need to come home."

The Committee says it will refund Isenberg's $10,000 donation.

And while Isenberg never did eat, he says the rejection by his own political party leaves a bad taste in his mouth.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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