Chanting "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Super PACs have got to go!" a small but spirited group of protestors from the recently-formed “99% Spring” group of Stamford gathered along US Route 1 in Riverside on Sunday to call on political candidates to "reverse Citizens United and end big money control of the political process."
The protest, held in front of the Riverside Commons Shopping Center at the busy Exit 5/Route 1 intersection, coincided with a $2,500 a person Republican fundraiser for presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Riverside home of state Sen L. Scott Frantz (R-36). To help attract attention the protestors brought along their dogs, enlisting them to carry signs and protest alongside. The protestors also attached giant stuffed dogs and pet carriers to the tops of their cars, symbolizing when Romney nearly drove off with a family pet on the roof of his vehicle.
Jonathan Tunik, an educational programming consultant from Stamford and event co-organizer, said "This is not to protest the fundraiser [at state Sen L. Scott Frantz's house] per se, but rather the fact that there's too much influence of big money in our political system."
"This problem has been made far worse as a result of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission U.S. Supreme Court decision, which says that corporations have the same rights to donate to political campaigns as individual people do," Tunik said, "and that has opened the flood gates to corporations putting unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns, giving people who don't have that kind of money much less of a voice in the political process."
"Mitt Romney has raised very large sums of money, as has President Obama, but Mr. Romney is sympathetic to the Citizens United decision, and we want that decision overturned, which is why we're here today," Tunik explained.
Some drivers honked their car horns as they drove past the group. Each time the cars stopped for a red light the protestors would pick-up again: "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Super PACs have got to go!"
"We want stricter campaign laws — but in order to do that Citizens United will have to be overturned," Tunik continued.
Later in the evening the protestors organized a "caravan," taking their animal-adorned cars down Route 1.
The 99% Spring group was formed about a month ago for the purpose of “taking back our democracy from the disproportionate influence of corporations and the extremely wealthy.” Comprised of professionals with diverse backgrounds, the group is part of "a nation-wide campaign to rekindle the energy of the Occupy movement which began on Wall Street last fall."
"That Mr. Romney will collect millions of dollars in one evening symbolizes the corruption of our democratic political process by big money," the group said in its release. "The individuals and corporations contributing to his campaign will demand that their candidate protect big banks and investment houses from the government regulation we need to protect the retirement savings and homes of middle class and working people from the kind of high risk bets that have brought our economy to the crisis of 2008."
Romney was expected to raise at least $1 million from the 500 guests who attended the private fund-raiser that was not open to the media.