Thursday, August 31, 2006

Filming "Democracy at work" is a "Threat to Homeland Security" says CHP

U.S. Newswire : Releases : "Public Interest Groups Are 'Homeland Security Threat'...":
"SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Proponents of Proposition 89, which would reduce the role of big money in politics, were warned by a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer yesterday that they could be considered a 'homeland security threat' as they filmed lawmakers and lobbyists wrapping up end of the session deals.

'When did the CHP become a private security force for corporate lobbyists? Prop 89, the campaign finance overhaul, will make the Capitol a public space again,' said Jerry Flanagan of the nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).

FTCR's public interest news crew, Channel 89, was in the Capitol yesterday filming lawmakers and lobbyists as they exchange favors and campaign contributions in the final days of the legislative session. A CHP officer warned the Channel 89 staff that they could be considered a 'homeland security threat' for filming the democratic process in the Capitol. Shortly after, Channel 89 staff members were stopped as they tried to interview Assembly Speaker Nu´┐Żez outside his office. The CHP called FTCR staff to suggest they were breaking the law.

'Californians pay lawmakers' salaries and pay taxes to keep the Capitol building running. It's only fair that we get a bird's eye view of what they are doing on our property. Channel 89 is still in the Capitol, and the cameras are rolling. Stay tuned for footage at www.Channel89.org ,' said Carmen Balber.

FTCR said the intimidation was triggered by the subject matter of the filming -- fundraisers where lobbyists pay thousands to chat with politicians, and the hallways where those same lobbyists make final hour pitches to lawmakers.

View footage from the Capitol and end-of-session political fundraisers at: http://www.Channel89.org courtesy of the Channel 89 film crew."

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