Leak blamed for canceled Occupy-Dem confab

Dec. 14, 2011 at 9:56 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus axed a meeting with Occupy activists, a move observers say shows growing tension between Democrats and the movement.

The meeting with Occupy Wall Street leaders was canceled late Tuesday after the Washington newspaper Roll Call said it asked about it.

Democrats may be adopting the Occupy movement's language, but they have been backing away from the protesters and their anti-capitalist chants, with some in the party considering the activists a potential liability in next year's elections, observers said in a Roll Call article published Wednesday.

"Democrats should reject Occupy Wall Street as the spokesmen for the 99 percent," said Kelly Bingel, a former chief of staff to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., now involved in government affairs. "The chance of those guys going out and voting or encouraging anyone else to vote is very low."

Another Democratic lobbyist agreed, telling Roll Call anonymously, "I think Democrats need to stay away from embracing OWS. We can acknowledge their frustrations without embracing their movement."

The Occupy movement -- with its encampments, confrontations with police, property damage and arrests -- doesn't resonate well with middle America, the lobbyist said.

"Let the Republicans be the party of the angry right," he said. "We need to be the party where moderates feel welcomed."

Han Shan, a spokesman for the original Occupy Wall Street group wo was involved in planning the canceled meeting, said the face-to-face was meant to give protesters a chance to request an investigation of the recent evictions of encampments in cities across the country.

"They were people who wanted to know why there has been no investigation of the very systematic suppression of Occupiers' free speech," he told Roll Call Tuesday. "Potentially [the lawmakers] had a different agenda."

An e-mail sent to Congressional Progressive Caucus members from the group's executive director, Brad Bauman, blamed a leak for the cancellation, Roll Call said.

"Due to a leak from within the caucus, [media] were alerted to our Occupy guests this week," Bauman said in the e-mail obtained by the publication. "Our guests will now not be participating in the member meeting. ... All internal communications are off the record."

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