Occupy’s Millionaire Lobbyist Friend

Roanoke branch of activist group protests for Democratic gubernatorial candidate

Terry McAuliffe / AP
May 20, 2013

The gubernatorial campaign of Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe recruited local "Occupy" demonstrators to protest a campaign event by his Republican opponent on Monday, but only about ten protesters showed up.

According to a post on the Facebook page of the group Occupy Roanoke, the McAuliffe campaign was "looking for some ‘counter’ people" to protest an event held by Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, and the GOP’s nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The McAuliffe campaign would provide all necessary protest materials, including signs, the group’s posting said. Protesters were to meet across the street from the event, and then walk over to the protest.

A picture of the demonstration provided to the Washington Free Beacon shows only 10 protesters at the event.

The apparent collaboration between Occupy Roanoke and the McAuliffe campaign immediately drew ridicule from Republicans, who said McAuliffe’s public persona—that of a legendary political fundraiser and a self-proclaimed member of "the 1 percent"—clash with the Occupy group’s populist message.

"It's absolutely stunning that an organization that is on record in opposition to paid lobbyists, union influence, and 'Big Money' politics is organizing on behalf of Terry McAuliffe," said Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party, in a news release.

"Terry McAuliffe is the consummate Washington insider: He managed a lobbying a firm, he took millions from special interests, and leveraged his political contacts to make his own personal fortune," Wilcox added.

Occupy Roanoke claimed they were protesting Cuccinelli and other Republican candidates, not supporting McAuliffe.

"Speaking for myself, Occupy Roanoke does not support any candidate," said Mary Croft, an activist with the group, in response to a Facebook message sent to the group’s official account.

"The individuals who attended this event from Occupy Roanoke did so to protest AGAINST the regressive, bigoted tea party politics of Cuccinelli and [lieutenant governor candidate E.W.] Jackson, not to support McAuliff [sic]," Croft told the Free Beacon.

The group’s critics rejected that message, citing its apparent collaboration with the McAuliffe campaign.

"This only confirms that Occupy was never about economic issues or crony capitalism but rather a home for the far-left who seek acceptance rather than principle," said Anne Sorock, a market researcher who has conducted extensive research on the Occupy movement.

"McAuliffe represents both the political elite and the class of society that, if you went by Occupy's signs alone, you'd expect them to detest the most," Sorock said. "For Occupy, it is acceptance by those elements that validates them as having meaning."

Croft, who did not respond to follow-up questions, has been involved in other protest activities supporting the Democratic Party’s agenda in Virginia.

She is the head of the Roanoke chapter of Moms Demand Action, a left-wing gun control group that has collaborated with Organizing for Action, the shadowy activist arm of the Obama administration, to stage anti-Second Amendment protests in the area.

Moms Demand Action’s Roanoke chapter has previously conducted sparsely attended protests.

The McAuliffe campaign did not respond to a request for comment.