On the night before Virginia’s annual legislative session begins, protesters gathered outside a fundraiser attended by Republican leaders, including Gov. Bob McDonnell.
“Governor McDonnell. He doesn’t care!” they shouted. “All we want is our fair share.”
The 40 protesters, who represent various liberal groups as well as Occupy Richmond, stood across the street from the posh Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, where House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) was holding his annual fundraiser. About six Richmond police officers were stationed in front of the door of the hotel.
Republicans will control both chambers in the General Assembly and the governor’s mansion when the 60-day session kicks off Wednesday, and protesters say they worry about a number of bills, including those that could restrict abortions and crack down on immigrants.
Protesters erected banners in the hotel overlooking the area where the reception took place. They read: “Your extreme agenda is Anti-Virginia!” and “We want a Fair and Free Future for all Virginians!” Outside the hotel, a sign read “Fundraiser for the one percent.’’
“These legislators are out of touch with real Virginians and our families,’’ said Phaedra Jackson, a member of the group, Virginia New Majority. “They’re lining up a legislative agenda that will leave us less secure, less healthy, and less employed.”
The last few days have seen a mad dash to raise money. Virginia law bans fundraising during the legislative session.
Howell’s political action committee always holds its event the night before the session begins. Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) held his event Monday night.
McDonnell left early and traveled to a wake in Hampton Roads. His spokesman, Tucker Martin, declined to comment.