WASHINGTON-A liberal Internet freedom group says it mounted an anti-free-trade protest Tuesday night that scared away Sen. Ron Wyden from holding a fundraiser at an upscale French restaurant near the Capito
[Reposted from The Oregonian | Jeff Mapes | March 25, 2015]
The Oregon Democrat said in a brief interview outside his office that "we haven't canceled anything" but declined to say anything more. "The campaign can give you all that," he said.
Keith Chu, a Wyden spokesman, later said that the fundraiser was indeed held Tuesday night but said he didn't know where it was held and added that he wouldn't be able to provide any more information about the event.
Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future, said that Wyden clearly didn't hold the event at Bistro Bis since the hotel restaurant's interior was easily visible from the street. And workers at the hotel told the group that the event had been canceled Monday after the protest was announced on social media.
Greer said Wyden's skittishness about the protest showed that he is "feeling the pressure on this."
"For someone who speaks out fervently on transparency," added Greer, "I'd like to know what he did tell his donors about why he moved his fundraiser."
Fight for the Future, also recently attracted attention by floating a 30-foot blimp outside several Wyden town halls in eastern Oregon warning that the trade pact among the 12 Pacific Rim nations threatened the freewheeling nature of the inrernet. Trade critics say they are worried that the pact -- which is still being negotiated in secret -- could tighten copyright restrictions that impinge on internet freedom.
Wyden has been a champion of open access to the Internet and played a key role in 2012 in blocking legislation sought by Hollywood and other content producers aimed at toughening copyright rules.
However, the Oregon senator has generally supported free-trade pacts in Congress, saying they particularly help export-oriented companies in Oregon. Because of that and his position as ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Wyden has been under heavy pressure from the Obama administration to support a fast-track bill.
Wyden is negotiating the terms of a bill with Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and the Oregon Democrat's support is regarded as crucial to its passage.
On the other side, organized labor and a number of left-of-center groups are pressuring Wyden not to sign on to a deal.
The fundraiser, meanwhile, was aimed at business supporters of Wyden, according to CQ.com, which reported that invitations to the event said that "Friends of all industries are welcome to attend."
Wyden is up for re-election in 2016 and his campaign reported having $2.3 million in the bank at the start of this year.