More than a thousand protesters gathered this weekend in Palm Springs to express opposition to the secret meeting held by David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers, owners of the 2nd largest privately held corporation in the United States, were conducting their bi-annual retreat where they and a cadre of well heeled power brokers hold strategy sessions.
Progressives have been critical of the brothers because of their funding of the fight against global warming laws and their financial support of Americans for Prosperity, an organization that has worked closely with tea party groups.
The guest roster of the meeting was not disclosed. But in the past, the Koch brothers have held these sessions with Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Before the rally, Common Cause held a panel session that was originally scheduled to be held in at the Hilton but had to be moved to the AMC movie theater a block away because the crowds were too large to be accomodated by the Hilton. The throngs of protesters filled into the AMC to hear a panel discussion. Robert Reich, who was scheduled to appear on the panel was unable to be there due to illness however, the panel had a cross section of progressive leaders, each offering a different perspective. On the panel were:
- Van Jones, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
- Erwin Chemerinsky, UC Irvine Law Dean
- Lee Fang, Center for American Progress investigative journalist and Koch Brothers expert
- DeAnn McEwen, Co-President of the California Nurses Association
Common Cause also held a special blogger meeting before the panel session where Bob Edgars, CEO of Common Cause, Van Jones and Lee Fang discussed ways the grass roots can support the movement to reduce the power of corporations in American politics. Attending the blogger session were bloggers representing Crooks and Liars, Center for American Progress, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, LA Progressive, Think Progress, Daily Kos, and others.
The event was organized by a coalition of progressive/liberal groups – led by the Common Cause, the Courage Campaign, HCAN (Health Care for America Now, the labor/consumer/liberal coalition that led the fight for health care reform), unions, community organizing groups, and others. Although the rally was peaceful, there have been reports that at least 25 of the protesters were arrested for trespassing.