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Activists Protest Romney's 'Koch Problem' | The Nation

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Allison Kilkenny

Allison Kilkenny

Budget wars, activism, uprising, dissent and general rabble-rousing.

Activists Protest Romney's 'Koch Problem'

On her way into a swank fundraiser for Mitt Romney in the Hamptons—the recommended contribution for the event was $25,000—a donor spoke to the LA Times and said the following:

“I don’t think the common person is getting it…my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies— everybody who’s got the right to vote—they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income—one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

That might seem like a cartoonishly villainous attitude, but it’s a commonly held belief among the one percent. The 99 percent are naïve, or idealistic, or stupid, or they simply don’t understand how things work in the real world—you know, Southampton—where stuff really gets done.

Romney echoed the sentiment early in his campaign when he remarked, “I’m not concerned with the very poor,” only to say later on that he misspoke.

Whether or not he really did flub a line, the fact is Romney’s tax plan would give the richest 0.1 percent of Americans an average tax cut of $246,000.

But apparently that still isn’t radical enough for some of Romney’s donors. CS Monitor spoke with a money manager on his way into one of the fundraisers, who remarked it’s time for Romney to “up his game and be more reactive” and that so far Romney has had a “very timid offense.”

The “common people” against whom Romney apparently has a “very timid offense” were the protesters, many of them from Occupy Wall Street and MoveOn.org, showing up outside the fundraiser to protest not only Mitt Romney but also energy billionaire David Koch, who was hosting one of the fundraisers at his beach house (suggested contribution: $75,000).

Outside the estate was a queue of Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsche roadsters and a red Ferrari.

It’s not a coincidence that many of the donors interviewed by press refused to give their names. Oftentimes, these individuals claimed doing so would hurt their business, perhaps because the 99 percent are some of their customers.

Among the guests were the Zambrellis of New York City, independent voters who were previously Obama supporters.

Sharon Zambrelli voted for Obama in 2008 but has been disappointed with his handling of the economy and leadership style.

“I was very disenchanted with the political process, and he gave me hope,” she said. But ultimately: “He’s just a politician,” an “emperor with no clothes.”

The Zambrellis added they think it’s ludicrous the Democrats have attempted to seize on the language of class warfare, pointing out that Obama holds the same types of swank fundraisers, and that the president’s fundraisers consisted of “all of Wall Street.”

CS Monitor:

“It’s not helping the economy to pit the people who are the engine of the economy against the people who rely on that engine,” Michael Zambrelli said as the couple waited in their SUV for clearance into the pine-tree-lined estate. “He’s basically been biting the hand that fed him in ‘08…. I would bet 25 percent of the people here were supporters of Obama in ‘08. And they’re here now.”

Holding a banner that read, “Koch Kills,” around 200 protesters gathered outside the fundraiser and shouted “shame on you” as wealthy donors began to arrive. Above, a plane flew carrying a banner that said: “Romney has a Koch problem.”

Lisa Tyson, the director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), stated in a release handed out at the protest, “David Koch has done everything in his power to erode the few protections that we have for workers, for the environment and for clean elections. We may not be able to stop the fundraiser, but we can make sure that it’s clear to everyone who attends: if you’re siding with David Koch, you’re standing against the 99%.”

David Segal with the LIPC said his group isn’t worried about who’s running for president. “What bothers me,” he said to ABC News as a black stretch-limo drove passed, “is that people like David Koch are buying our politicians.”

Koch’s $50,000-per-person dinner was highly secretive, and when protesters attempted to approach Koch’s home, they were greeted by an entourage of Secret Service agents, “posted on a bluff between the beach and tents in the backyard,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard patrolled the waters offshore.

Two men were arrested after attempting to sail across a lake near Koch’s property and striking a police vessel with their boat.

The tight security ensured protesters couldn’t get anywhere near Romney or his wealthy donors. In the words of CS Monitor, “They never got close, and Mitt Romney may not have even seen them.”

During the trio of Southampton fundraisers, Romney raised $3 million.

Michael Korn, a 57-year-old protester from Brooklyn, spoke to Bloomberg News: “It doesn’t matter if it’s Romney or Obama,” he said. “Votes shouldn’t be weighed by oodles of cash.”

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