Protestors plague GOP fundraiser

Posted June 29, 2011

About four dozen protestors gathered in the late-afternoon heat today to protest the House Republican fundraiser at 18 Seaboard tonight.

Across the street, at the restaurant, a steady stream of cars pulled into the parking lot at about 5:45. Three Raleigh police officers stood watch, but the protest was peaceful – though loud.

Protestors from groups including the AFL-CIO, TogetherNC, and Democracy NC chanted as cars drove by. “Buy a seat, sell your soul,” they shouted. “House for sale: what am I bid?”

As a BMW followed a Lexus and a Mercedes into the parking lot, one protestor groused, “At least they could’ve bought American.” Another shouted, "Hey, Tillis, where's my 27 percent raise?" 

Protestor Bo Chagnon passed around a faux fundraiser menu that included “Hubris Sorbet,” “Peasant Under Glass,” “Creamed Chipped Middle Class,” and “Marie Antoinette Cake.” He said he wasn’t representing any particular political group. “I’m just here,” Chagnon said. “This is a movement.”

The attention was clearly unwelcome. Many lobbyists and lawmakers ducked their heads as protestors shouted from across the street. “Turn around!” the protestors yelled at arriving guests. “How much did you pay?,” they shouted at those leaving.

It didn’t seem to hurt attendance much, though. Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, was there, along with Rep. Leo Daughtry, R- Johnston. And whether or not Reps. Mitch Gillespie, R-McDowell, Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, and Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, were there, their cars certainly were, tagged with NC House license plates.

Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, came over to chat on his way into the building. “I’ve never been protested before,” he confided. “This is great!”

Lobbyists aren’t allowed by state law to make political donations to lawmakers, but their employers are as long as the session is adjourned for at least ten days. Quite a few high-powered lobbyists must have had their tickets bought for them. I spotted Theresa Kostrzewa, Tim Kent, Fred Bone, Joe McClees, his wife Henri McClees, and Johnny Tillett headed into the shindig. To see who they lobby for, click on their names.

Another lobbyist, Ardis Watkins with the State Employees’ Association, tucked in a crisp white blouse as she hurried into the fundraiser, avoiding SEANC’s organized labor brethren sweating in t-shirts across the street.

Others I didn’t recognize went in and out.  I watched one flip off protestors as he drove away in a gold Toyota SUV.

Kostrzewa, too, seemed upset about the situation. “I can’t believe you’re covering this,” she said to me in the parking lot. “It must be a slow news day.”

She pointed at the protestors across the street: “Are you going to ask them if they’re going to picket the Dem fundraiser?,” she asked.

Fundraisers like this are nothing new, though under state law, legislators usually have to hold them before or after session. But because of the way GOP leaders have set up special sessions, lawmakers this year have at least one (and probably two) opportunities to shake down special interest groups for money while votes that affect them are on the table.

NC Senate Democrats are holding a fundraiser of their own July 12th, at the party headquarters on Hillsborough.  I asked Democracy NC’s Adam Sotak if they would picket that, too. He didn’t say no, but he didn’t say yes, either.

“We’re protesting a system that currently is broken as far as campaign finances go. I think it’s unfortunate if Democrats take advantage of this loophole just like the Republicans are doing,” Sotak said. “We’re basically telling the politicians, ‘Get off this fundraising treadmill. Let’s try an alternative way here in North Carolina.’” Sotak Sotak on GOP Fundraiser

Sotak says he’s holding the GOP to the standard they set with their campaign promises. “They came into this session talking about it being a new day -- you know, we’re gonna try to do something about this so-called corruption, this pay-to-play,” he said. “We’re not seeing anything different. If they came here to just uphold the status quo and do business as usual, they’re doing a great job.”

Watch Sotak’s comments at right. (And sorry about the shakycam - I took this on my iPhone, sans tripod.)


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  • driverkid3 Jul 6, 2011

    mnay times have protesters showed up at their events?

    I dare say very few. The dems aren't going to protest their own, they are too eager to be a part of something that is more to their idea of how things should be.

  • marktroll Jul 5, 2011

    CANT WAIT TO SEE LL's STORY ON THIS ONE!!!! The N.C. Democratic Party House Caucus will hold a fundraising breakfast July 13 at state party headquarters for "a discussion of the legislative session, redistricting and our efforts to take back the House."

    The price of admission ranges from $100 for an individual ticket to $250 for a friend, $500 for a patron, $1,000 for a host, and $2,500 for a benefactor.

  • twitter Jul 1, 2011

    Tell Speaker Tillis what you think about him giving his staff fat raises while cutting funding for pretty much everything else. Go to www.telltillis.com to sign the petition telling him to give that money back to the taxpayers.

  • SARCASTICLES Jun 30, 2011

    Yeah, right. It's ALL my fault you've got that charmin' demeanor and sunny disposition, too. You should join the Taliban...you'd fit right in. ;)

  • TheDude abides... Jun 30, 2011

    kjones026 - Infowars.com

    But you may not like what you hear. Truth hurts

  • TheDude abides... Jun 30, 2011

    FIVE BUCKS says this article gets sent to the "more" archives

  • marktroll Jun 30, 2011

    again, sarcasticles, your entire second paragraph is the mirror image statement that you and the rest of your obama-ites have been chiding since 08. get some new material, reading your posts has become sad and depressing :(

  • SARCASTICLES Jun 30, 2011

    Right.......how is Laura "biased"? She reports what happens. If you have a problem with the reportage she obviously does a great job on, why not tune in to a "Fair and Balanced" source of "news" instead?

    It's not what the GOP is doing, it's how they carry on about it. That's all we heard during their campaign...."Elect US, and things will be DIFFERENT in Raleigh." Right off the bat, they scurry across the street to sell themselves to the highest bidder....and when confronted, say "But the DEMOCRATS did it TOO!" Especially telling was the reaction from Theresa Kostrzewa, who "seemed upset"...."I can't believe you're covering this....it must be a slow news day". The unknown flipper was a nice touch as well. Good luck in 2112, NCGOP. ;)

  • dlphnwmn8 Jun 30, 2011

    Souls for sale........

  • gimmegrits Jun 30, 2011

    I think SEANC members should ask their leadership why their lobbyist crossed a picket line and why their organization is supporting GOP officials who are trying to dismantle our education system, roll back protections for consumers and rob state coffers by expanding corporate tax loopholes.