WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of people from across the country convened on Capitol Hill Tuesday to participate in Occupy Congress, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
For Ben Droz, a D.C. resident who lost his job as a lobbyist for a small non-profit just over two weeks ago, the day was spent acting as a sort of lobbyist guide.
"I noticed that there was a void where the Occupy movement has never talked about any specific legislation and that has been something they have specifically done intentionally," he said. "But I've seen a problem because Congress specifically says, 'all we want to hear is specific legislation.'"
So Droz took it upon himself to research different current legislation and find bills he felt would be generally supported by the ninety-nine percent.
One such bill is the Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) Constitutional Amendment, which was introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) this past November. It overturns the Supreme Court's January 2010 Citizens United ruling which held that corporations have the constitutional right to spend unlimited sums of money to influence elections.
Johann Bleicher, a 68-year-old retiree from Greenville, N.C., drove to D.C. Tuesday morning with his son, a recent Peace Corps graduate who is currently unemployed, to talk about that ruling with his congressman, Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.).
While Jones was absent when the father-son duo entered his Rayburn office, his chief of staff Glen Downs invited the Bleicher's to sit down and talk.
"Citizens United has to change," the elder Bleicher told Downs. "It's dismal."
For Droz, this meeting is as good as it gets since he says the staff need to be educated on legislation as well.
"It gives the congressional office really an understanding of what their constituents are thinking about it," Droz said.
In between trying to set up these meetings during the day, Occupiers gathered for a general assembly on the west lawn of the Capitol and watched as others were arrested.
Droz stayed mostly at a table nearby, passing out legislation information, answering questions on it and directing people on how to get to different Congressional office buildings.
"It'd be great if the Occupy movement had an office here in Washington, D.C. and they had a budget to hire some full time staff to represent the ninety-nine percent in Congress," Droz said. "I would love to do that."
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