WASHINGTON - February 25 - More than a dozen North Carolina organizations are working with Public Citizen to protest President Bushs fundraiser in Charlotte, N.C. on Thursday, noting that instead of visiting with the more than 100,000 North Carolinians who have lost their jobs during his first term, Bush is visiting only those who can afford the $2,000-a-plate dinner at the Charlotte Convention Center.
The fundraiser has been in development since last month, when about 75 Bush supporters joined White House strategist Karl Rove for a planning meeting in the Charlotte home of Wachovia Bank CEO Ken Thompson. News accounts of the meeting noted that Rove asked each of the participants to raise $50,000 for Bush which would total $3.75 million for a primary campaign in which the president is unopposed. If this amount is raised, this would be the largest Republican fundraiser in North Carolina history, eclipsing the $1.1 million that Bush raised at a Winston-Salem event last November.
According to WhiteHouseForSale.org, a Web site created by Public Citizen to track major contributors to the 2004 presidential campaigns, Bush already has amassed more than $150 million for the primary, an amount that dwarfs the war chests of his likely Democratic opponents, U.S. Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards, who have raised a little over $33 million and $25 million, respectively.
"The president is visiting the wrong people," said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. Claybrook noted that AFL-CIO figures show a net loss of 125,100 manufacturing jobs in North Carolina from January 2001 to October 2003 and added, "The president talks regularly about doing the peoples business, yet the only people he appears to have time for are his wealthy donors. This is why the presidential campaign financing system so desperately needs to be reformed."
Led by Democracy North Carolina, a diverse group of organizations is scheduled to set up a giant inflatable White House with a "White House for Sale" sign across from the Convention Center from 4:30 p.m to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Participating organizations include the Charlotte chapter of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the Asheville Peace Community, the Action Center for Justice, the Charlotte Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Peace First and Public Assembly.
"The people of North Carolina are ready to give rich special interests the boot. Thats why were starting a system of public funding that will put voters, not donors, in charge of our elections," said Democracy North Carolina organizer Adam Sotak, referring to a new statewide public campaign financing fund. In contrast to the well-heeled contributors giving millions to Bushs campaign, those protesting will be soliciting canned food for the states estimated 419,000 children living in poverty, approximately one of every five children in the state.
WhiteHouseForSale.org features an updated, searchable database for all the individuals listed by the Bush campaign as Rangers, who bundle $200,000 in individual contributions, and Pioneers, who bundle a minimum of $100,000. Four North Carolina residents have achieved Ranger status with the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, and two others are listed as Pioneers:
Jim Culbertson, retired president of Financial Computer Inc. in Winston-Salem, is statewide chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign. He is a 2004 Ranger and was a 2000 Pioneer. Culbertson has told reporters about sending regular express mail packages to the Bush-Cheney campaign office in Arlington, Va.: "I have sent as much as $94,000, and Ive sent as little as $18,000 or $19,000," he was quoted as saying in the Nov. 1 Winston-Salem Journal.
James P. Cain, lawyer, lobbyist and former president and chief operating officer of the Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey club, is a Ranger and state vice chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Cain, who co-founded the Raleigh office of Atlanta-based Kilpatrick Stockton law firm after joining the firm in the mid-1980s, lobbied for companies in highly regulated industries, including BellSouth, El Paso Energy, Frontier Energy and Southeastern Gas & Power.
Stanley Davis Phillips, president of an investment holding company with textile and furniture interests, is a 2004 Ranger. In 2002, he was one of the hand-picked participants in the Bush administrations "Economic Forum" in Waco, Texas. His father is the late Earl N. Phillips, a former High Point mayor who launched enough furniture-related companies to be inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame. His brother, Earl Phillips Jr., was appointed by Bush as the Barbados-based ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean in 2002. He resigned the ambassadorship after 15 months in the wake of an IRS report that listed him among wealthy individuals who invested in dubious tax shelters marketed by accounting firms.
Dr. Aldona Z. Wos of Greensboro, a retired New York physician who chaired Women for Dole during Elizabeth Doles successful 2002 U.S. Senate race, is a 2004 Ranger for Bush. Wos, a native of Poland who has organized educational programs to recognize Christian victims of the World War II concentration camps, was appointed by Bush to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and invited to the White House for a dinner honoring Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski.
J. Ward Purrington, a Raleigh lawyer and chairman of the Carolina Ballet, is a 2004 Bush Pioneer.
Dr. Charles L. Branch Jr., professor and chairman of neurosurgery at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, is a 2004 Bush Pioneer.