Dressed like wealthy donors, protesters try to disrupt Romney fundraiser in Tampa

Amos Miers, middle, and Bill Livsey, right, shout outside the Tampa Museum of Art during a fundraiser for Mitt Romney on Tuesday. Livsey made it into the party and was ousted.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Amos Miers, middle, and Bill Livsey, right, shout outside the Tampa Museum of Art during a fundraiser for Mitt Romney on Tuesday. Livsey made it into the party and was ousted.

TAMPA — They decided to look the part of people who could afford to contribute $2,500 apiece to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

One wore a black dress and high heels. One a crisp business suit. One a tie; another, pearls.

But not long after gliding into the Tampa Museum of Art, where the GOP candidate held a fundraiser Tuesday evening, the interlopers showed their hand.

Wall Street is bankrolling Romney's campaign, they read from notes. And "Occupy Tampa wholeheartedly rejects this."

Security and police officers rushed toward them in a scene that unfolded in front of the roughly 75 protesters watching through the museum's glass atrium walls.

"Shame! Shame!" protesters on the outside shouted as they saw their brethren on the inside get booted.

One of the interlopers, Bill Livsey, a 47-year-old out-of-work music teacher, initially resisted the officer but ended up leaving through the revolving door.

"Look at this crowd!" said Livsey, whose shirt came untucked during the tussle. "Multiply it by 3,000. Welcome to the (2012) RNC."

None of the handful of protesters inside was arrested. Fundraiser organizers said Tuesday night they were uncertain whether Romney had heard any of the commotion.

It was another small disturbance by the Occupy Tampa protesters, who have been encamped near Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park since early October — but one they hoped would advance their message.

"People are talking about income inequality, whereas before it was taboo," protester Jeannine Coreil, a retired public health professor, said of the Occupy movement.

One of the protesters who went inside the museum, Becky Rubright, 38, said she had called fundraiser organizers a few days ago and said she wanted to attend but could not afford the entire $2,500. An organizer, she said, told her to come and pay what she could. That got her name on the guest list.

But the protesters never saw Romney, who arrived in an SUV that pulled into a garage. Outside, they carried signs making fun of him as a flip-flopper and highlighting his "corporations are people" quote.

"Show me what people look like!" the protesters shouted in unison outside the museum, where they could see some of the reception patrons drinking wine and chatting. "This is what people look like!"

Protester Jon Talbot, 47, said he wondered what the food was like at a $2,500-a-plate event. "I'm a chef," said Talbot, who works for a cruise line. "There's no food worth that."

The crowd also made an issue of what Romney eats for dinner: "I eat dried beans for dinner three or four times a week," protesters said in unison. "Do you think Mitt eats dried beans?"

Dressed like wealthy donors, protesters try to disrupt Romney fundraiser in Tampa 11/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 8:10am]

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