Watch: Protesters Target John Boehner at Chamber Holiday Party

House Speaker John BoehnerZhang Jun/Xinhua/Zuma

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

On Thursday night, protesters in Washington, DC, staked out a holiday shindig at the US Chamber of Commerce building where business and political leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, were said to be in attendance. The protest was organized by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Chamber Watch, and various occupy groups, and some of the participants said they were out of work or lacked enough work to get by comfortably. Huddling under a red “99%” carpet, they invited the guests to tread on them.

Standing on the street near the entrance to the gauntlet (watch below) was Bruce Josten, a Chamber VP who is basically the business group’s chief lobbyist. He’s the one wearing a three-piece pinstripe suit and tassle loafers, greeting people and encouraging them to brave the crowd. “Hey Greg, how are ya?” I heard him say to one guest, shaking the man’s hand. “This is great. Go on in.”

“This is Bruce Josten’s let-them-eat-cake moment,” commented Christie Setzer of Chamber Watch. I urged her to go talk to Josten, whom she had never met, but she didn’t want to.

Among the people under the carpet was 55-year-old Michelle McDonnell, an Arizona resident whom SEIU paid to fly out and join the week’s protests. McDonnell told me she’d badly injured her ankle two years ago, requiring surgery. She lost her job as licensed therapist because she couldn’t be on her feet, and could not find work in any other field. For a while, she was on food stamps and Access, an Arizona program, but the benefits ran out, and she nearly lost her home to foreclosure by Bank of America. What finally saved her was getting married to a man with an income.

“We are here because of Boehner,” she said. “We want him to stop listening to just the 1 percent and do something that works for all people. We have a lot of people who need jobs, and they are talking about creating jobs, but they are taking jobs away.” Specifically, she wants Boehner to extend unemployment, further reform the healthcare system. “We’re here because we are sick and tired. They are up there eating and having a wonderful party. And we are all here unemployed and don’t know where our next meal is going to come from.”

Also watch: “OWS Occupies Movies-Set Replica of Itself” and Andy Kroll’s videos of protesters occupying a posh Newt Gingrich fundraiser, and turning the tables on Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.