Falwell Closes Lot to Obama Rally Attendees

Barack Obama campaigned in Lynchburg, VA yesterday at the EC Glass High School.  Apparently, just down the road from the high school is located a shopping plaza where those attending the rally were expecting to park:


Unfortunately for them, it turned out that the plaza was owned by Liberty University, which said “no way”:

Drivers hoping to park at the Plaza and make the short walk to E.C. Glass for the Obama event Wednesday evening were met by blocked entrances and Liberty University police officers directing them instead to City Stadium.

That’s where city officials had hastily arranged shuttle service after learning Wednesday morning that LU, which owns the Plaza, would not allow event parking at the shopping center.

Liberty officials say the Obama campaign never asked for permission to use the lot and that they were concerned those attending the rally would be using up spaces intended for customers even though, as a columnist for the News and Advance put it:

[I]t’s a Lynchburg tradition to park at the Plaza for events at and around Glass. People do it for the Virginia 10-Miler, the Kaleidoscope Art Show, and any sort of performance in the high school auditorium.

So that seems like a bit of a bogus excuse … but not as bogus as this one:

Jerry Falwell Jr., Chancellor LU [said] “I was watching TV news last night and that was the first time I heard about parking at The Plaza.” Falwell says Liberty can’t help out because they’re a tax-exempt organization and the IRS says they can’t help a campaign in any way. “For example when one of our presidential candidates spoke here recently he used our plane and immediately paid us the full value of that flight even though he was speaking at Liberty.” … Falwell says they’re willing to allow the Obama campaign to lease space. And they’d do the same for John McCain.  “It’s true we’d be a little more tempted to help on the other side, but the law says we can’t so we feel like we’re being transparent about it.”