Bannon Advised, Mercer Funded Group Faces Protesters at Cornell

Categories Ithaca, Politics, Protest

By Patricia Dubin

All views expressed are that of Ms. Dubin, who was a participant protester in the events she reports on below. 

About seventeen protesters gathered in Rockefeller Hall on Cornell’s campus on Saturday, November 18, to show their opposition to speaker George Phillips of “Reclaim New York.”

Reclaim New York is an anti-tax organization that was started by Stephen Bannon and is funded by billionaire Robert Mercer and family. Although they claim to be bipartisan, the Reclaim New York Board of Directors reads like a Who’s Who of those who spent large sums of money to make Donald Trump president.

The talk at Cornell was part of a campaign by Reclaim New York which, under the guise of government transparency, has been holding workshops across the state to build “citizen armies” that will flood local schools and governments with dozens of FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests. One of their purposes is to disrupt our communities, overwhelm our town boards and schools, and create financial hardship on already burdened local governments and schools. Reclaim has submitted FOIL requests to every county, city, town, village and school district in the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island, as well as some places in the Southern Tier area.

Protesters at a Reclaim New York event at Cornell, Saturday, November 19. Photo: Patricia Dubin.

Phillips said on Saturday that lowering taxes will create more jobs in New York State. As one member of the audience pointed out, based on Phillips’ own slide, Tompkins County has one of the highest property tax rates in New York state, but nevertheless has one of the lowest unemployment rates, refuting Reclaim New York’s argument that lowering taxes leads to job growth. Phillips also stated that Reclaim is opposed to raising the minimum wage.

As one protester commented, “No matter what he claims about its goals, Reclaim cannot be trusted because its funding source also funds Breitbart News, the self-described voice of the alt-right coalition of white nationalists, neo-nazis, and other hate groups.”

Protesters outnumbered other attendees of the event: this reporter counted about five students in the room not with the protest group, including the student who organized the event.

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