Lindsey Graham Meets Governing Under the Influence
Manchester Mayor, Ted Gatsas, invited Presidential candidate, Lindsey Graham, to come to the city for an event known as a "Walk and Talk." That is where the lunchtime crowd at downtown restaurants gets a surprise visit from ambitious politicians seeking the nation's top office. The Senator from South Carolina got his chance to stroll the Queen City just last week.
Activists with the Governing Under the Influence project gathered in anticipation at City Hall Plaza. We carried banners and signs indicating the pernicious influence of corporations in our political process and how profit motive tends to drive foreign policy and immigration policy in the wrong direction. Our small team hoped to inform Graham of our concerns and that he would address them on the campaign trail.
Graham's team did not respond enthusiastically to our presence. Before the walk got underway, one staffer attempted to lead us astray by pointing us in the wrong direction. Minutes later, we noticed the "Walk and Talk" entourage had snuck out the back door of City Hall and ducked into Ben & Jerry's.
We caught up with Graham just as he entered a pizza shop. Elizabeth, our first bird dog, followed Graham inside, shook his hand and asked him about Pentagon contractor lobbyists. See the exchange in the video below.
Next up, Graham headed into a fried chicken joint. Will, a Navy veteran and retired social studies teacher, walked in with him and asked Graham if he knew of the Brandeis quote, "You can either have a democracy or rule by the wealthy but you can't have both." Will went on to express his concern about the corrupting influence of money in our political system and asked if Graham would support overturning Citizens United. His response: "We're working on it."
Bird dog number three, John Paul, told Graham his personal immigration story. The Senator directed John Paul to his website where he lists proposed changes to immigration policy.
Finally, Graham's staffer announced they had to go to another engagement and he could not stay for any more questions. That's when I looked at Graham and said, "But you really need to hear about the quota system for detaining immigrants!" So I walked alongside Lindsey Graham and explained as we all returned to our respective cars. I described to him the provision in Homeland Security's budget that maintains 34,000 beds to be filled by immigrants and that most detained immigrants are held in for-profit facilities. I pointed out that prison for profit corporations like CCA and GEO Group lobby for policies like this and I feel it is wrong for our immigration policy to be driven by corporate lobbyists.
Graham responded saying he thinks we need to completely overhaul our immigration policy.