NJ's crack House reporter Billy House was the first journalist to arrive at the House Dems retreat in Cambridge, Md. this afternoon only to find himself surrounded by police officers and cut off from the lawmakers he had left the Beltway behind to cover.
House sent this dispatch when he first arrived:
Four buses of Democrats have just arrived here at the posh Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel -- about 100 of them in all via a motorcade from the U.S. Capitol.
But the lone reporter to arrive, of the 40 or so signed up to cover the retreat, is being held by plainclothes Capitol security and other leather-jacketed, jack-booted officers in a makeshift press "center" across the street.
No reporters are to leave the press center to talk to members. They can't even wander into the hotel. Right now, at least 12 officers are keeping a close eye on the one reporter here so far.
Organizers have kindly advised that reporters will get some visitation rights, members will be brought across the street occasionally to chat with the scribes. First up, the guy who arranged the retreat, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are set to address the Democrats on Friday. And already, there is talk that media access to the Obama event will be pooled. Not everyone will be able to cover.
No word yet from House on whether he'll get work release.