A day after announcing himself evolved on marriage equality, President Obama heads to Hollywood for a fundraising dinner at George Clooney’s house that promises to raise a whopping $15 million. The campaign turned the event into a raffle, where a small donor could win “dinner with Barack and George,” and that raffle took in $9 million, on top of the $6 million from the 150 attendees of the event. Clearly, Hollywood has been kind to the President.
Like many Presidential fundraisers and campaign events, this one will be marked by a protest outside the grounds. But this will have nothing to do with gay rights, though activists seeking LGBT equality have been among the most vocal at these types of events. Interestingly, this protest is being put together by housing and bank accountability activists, including one of the major coalitions that supported the foreclosure fraud settlement and the announcement of a task force to investigate Wall Street banks.
When President Barack Obama and Hollywood’s glitterati arrive for a million-dollar fundraiser at George Clooney’s California mansion, they’ll pass by a collection of 50 or so people urging the president to help them keep their homes.
Campaign for a Fair Settlement, a group of underwater homeowners and housing advocates, plan to protest outside the Laurel Canyon event on Thursday. They want Obama to get tougher on the banks and mortgage lenders that triggered the housing crisis — and force the conservator of federally-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to do more to help them.
“We’re urging the president to be tougher and stronger,” said Nish Suvarnakar the campaign’s manager. “We’re asking him to use his authority to push the Department of Justice to make it a priority to investigate. We believe, and a lot of the 11 million struggling homeowners believe, he hasn’t done enough when it comes to the housing crisis.”
Campaign for a Fair Settlement was the coalition that basically stuck to Eric Schneiderman’s side during the negotiations over foreclosure fraud. They broke with those objecting to the settlement after the announcement of the task force. So they would, in my mind, be the least likely organization to picket the President at a fundraiser to demand a stronger line on Wall Street accountability.
But the coalition has become disillusioned of late by the relative silence of the task force, and the belief that nothing meaningful will come from either that or the settlement. And they feel they have a small window to force real change here before the election season starts in earnest. One organizer from CFS told me that they were seeing a lot of unity among the coalition to go after Obama more directly as a means to open up real investigations. This is the first of many demonstrations they plan at events where Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder is present. They also plan to protest at Obama for America campaign offices across the country.
Campaign for a Fair Settlement also hopes to mobilize the 11 million underwater homeowners in America as a constituency that will be heard throughout the election. Some of those underwater homeowners will be at the protest tonight.
And provided that Los Angeles traffic patterns cooperate, I will be there as well. My Twitter feed is probably the best place to find quick updates from the protest tonight, which should kick off around 6pm Pacific time/9pm Eastern.