ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:
Taking the fight from the statehouse in Madison to the nation’s capital, protesters shut down major streets in downtown Washington, D.C. this afternoon as they marched to the White House in protest against a fundraiser for Wisconsin GOP legislators.
Nearly 300 protesters, including Wisconsinites and union members from elsewhere, took to the streets in opposition to a fundraiser hosted by BGR Group, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm founded by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
Organized by the Wisconsin Republican Party, the $1,000-a-head fundraiser was expected to draw 60 to 70 people from Wisconsin, including Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.
Bob Wood, president of BGR Group, told ABC News the fundraiser was in the works for months and has been held annually for the past seven years.
“The event was scheduled months ago. Certainly outside national interest like the protesters, Moveon.org, Code Pink and International Socialist are trying to make it a national issue,” Wood told ABC News in a phone interview. “But this is just Wisconsin residents coming out to D.C. for a couple of days and our way of saying hello to them and support what they’re doing back in Wisconsin.”
But protester Jonathan Backer, from Kenosha, Wisconsin, saw the fundraiser as a political ploy to inject corporate power into government.
“It’s such a good representation of what’s wrong with our democracy right now. There’s so much corporate power in our democracy where literally seconds after one of the worst anti-labor decisions that’s ever happened in the Midwest, you’ve got a big fundraiser going on here, right here in D.C.,” Backer told ABC News. “What we’re doing here is all about trying to fight for unions so there is a way to combat this corporate power going on in democracy right now.”
The protesters created a traffic jam in downtown Washington, D.C. as they shut down streets while marching to the White House.