Article By: Rohma Abbas, The East Hampton Press
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate who will challenge President Barack Obama in November, will make a fundraising pass through the East End this Sunday.
Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman John Jay LaValle this week confirmed recent news reports that the former Massachusetts governor will attend at least three fundraisers in Southampton and East Hampton towns during his whirlwind visit.
“It’s great to see Mitt Romney on Long Island,” said Mr. LaValle, who said he’s been invited to some of the events. “He’s always welcome. God only knows we need him more than ever.”
Mr. Romney will attend fundraisers at the Creeks, an estate on Georgica Pond in East Hampton owned by Ronald Perelman and at the Southampton homes of Cliff Sobel and David and Julia Koch.
The high priced fundraisers have irked some in political action groups, who claim that they promote economic inequality. The Long Island Progressive Coalition, a Massapequa group that has advocated for campaign finance reform and fairness in elections, is organizing a protest at one of the fundraisers, a dinner held at the Kochs’ Meadow Lane home in Southampton on Sunday. The fundraiser starts at 5 p.m., and the suggested contribution is $50,000 per person, or $75,000 per couple, according to a copy of the invitation circulating on the internet.
“This is a $50,000 a plate a fundraiser,” Lisa Tyson, the director of the coalition, said on Monday. “Think about it. That is what one person, maybe two people’s yearly income is. They’re not doing it for dinner. This is the elite of the elite and they’re trying to buy power and buy influence.”
Ms. Tyson said somewhere between 50 and 100 people from her group, including some from groups like Occupy Wall Street, plan to march and hold up signs near the Kochs’ home. The group will begin at Coopers Beach and walk down to protest about a quarter of a mile away from the oceanfront home.
Ms. Tyson said the protest isn’t rooted in anti-Mitt Romney sentiment, but is instead pro-economic justice.
“This is about the 99 percent,” she said.
Mr. Romney will start his visit off with a lunch at the Creeks, Mr. Perelman’s estate off Montauk Highway in Wainscott, according to media reports. He will attend the event with a special guest— U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor, according to a copy of the invitation circulating on the web. The event will take place at 12:30 p.m., and lunch is $5,000 per person, or $7,500 per couple. The third event, according to the political news organization Politico, will be hosted by Mr. Sobel, the ambassador to Brazil under former Republican President George W. Bush.
Randy Altschuler, a Republican businessman from St. James who is challenging Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Bishop for his seat this November, has been invited to attend, according to Chris Russell, his campaign consultant.
“He has been invited to all of them,” Mr. Russell wrote in an email. “Schedule permitting, he will attend at least one of the events. We are playing it by ear. Randy’s top priority is meeting with Suffolk County’s working families, small-business owners and seniors who are increasingly frustrated with Congressman Bishop’s record of repeatedly voting for higher taxes, more spending and irresponsible debt that has helped to destroy 30,000 jobs on Long Island since Mr. Bishop was sworn in to Congress nearly 10 years ago.”
Robert Pierce, the communications director for Mr. Bishop’s campaign, responded to Mr. Russell’s statement by claiming Mr. Altschuler and Mr. Romney support policies that hurt the middle class. “The budget Randy and Mitt support gives the average millionaire a $300,000 tax cut, while raising taxes on those earning between $100,000 and $200,000 by an average of $2,700,” Mr. Pierce said. “If shifting the tax burden onto the middle class isn’t enough for millionaires Mitt and Randy to discuss, I’m sure they’ll enjoy comparing notes about how they outsourced thousands of American jobs for their own benefit.”
Mr. Romney’s campaign didn’t return a request seeking comment last week. But Mr. LaValle dismissed the protest.
“The liberals, they love to do weird things,” he said. “I’m sure they’re up to something. There’s not much more they can do to tear the country down, so they’re into party crashing now.”