At the “Values Voters Summit” today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he was, “increasingly concerned” about the growing Occupy Wall Street protests. According to Dave Weigel at Slate, “Some in this town," he said, "have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans."
I think Rep. Cantor’s constituents, though, might be “increasingly concerned” about his Wall Street cash and ties to big banks—pitting the needs of Wall Street against everyday people.
- In February of last year, Cantor told the Wall Street Journal that financial industry donors had “buyer’s remorse” from giving to Democrats. After that Wall Street fundraising pitch, he saw a big increase in campaign cash.
- Just this year, Cantor and his leadership PAC have raked in at least $1 million from the sector. Securities and investment firms make up the biggest giving sector—having given him $347,000 in campaign cash in 2011. His biggest donor is the PAC and executives of insurance giant Travelers Companies ($60,000). His number two donor is Goldman Sachs ($31,500)
- During his time in Congress, Cantor has received $5.6 million from the finance, insurance, and real estate sector, according to Public Campaign Action Fund analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
- It was announced this week that Cantor’s deputy chief of staff was leaving to form a super PAC, something that would specifically help bolster Cantor’s career and tie him even closer to donors like Wall Street CEOs.
- Cantor's former chief of staff, Rob Collins, is the president of American Action Network, an organization that spent big bucks to influence the 2010 elections. While the group doesn't have to disclose its donors, we know its backers have financial industry ties.
An Occupy Wall Street protestor told the USA Today that, "We don't have a government that represents us. That is the message."
She's right. And that’s why these protests have struck such a chord with people across the country. These protests might not please Cantor’s wealthy Wall Street donors—but that's not who he should be concerned about. In an occupied democracy, everyday people have the ear of our politicians instead of wealthy donors and their lobbyists.
Here's the page for Occupy Richmond events. Stop by if you're down in Cantor's district.
UPDATE: Virginia Organizing and other groups in Cantor's home state released a statement today responding to Cantor's comments:
“Rep. Cantor’s disapproval of the Occupy Wall Street protests speaks volumes about exactly who he is representing in Washington. The protesters are asking that big banks and Wall Street be held accountable and that we get corporate money out of our elections. Even Ben Bernanke understands why people have risen up in anger about the mess created by greedy, unregulated financial institutions. Cantor’s comments belie that he is in Washington to serve the corporations and not the other 99 percent who’ve had enough,” said Janice "Jay" Johnson, board member of Virginia Organizing.