Kicking off the Toxic Tour!

By Teddy Rube


Political money is dirty – and when that money from comes from NYC hedge funds trying to buy preferential policies, it’s downright toxic!


Since 2014, five New York State Senators have taken $8.3 million dollars from hedge funds: Senator Elaine Phillips​, Terrence Murphy​, Senator Sue Serino​, Senator Carl Marcellino​, and Senator Tom Croci.


In exchange, they’re standing in the way of policies, like closing tax loopholes for Wall Street and expanding voting rights – that will unrig New York’s economy and political system. In particular, they’re blocking attempts to close a loophole we’ve talked a lot about – the carried interest loophole, which benefits only the wealthiest of all hedge fund and private equity managers. Analysts have calculated that New York State alone could raise $3.5 billion in revenue if the loophole’s closed 


We’re kicking off a Toxic Tour of New York to hold these Senators accountable and demand they work for their voters, not their huge hedge fund donors. We’re bringing the truth directly to these Senators.


Our tour kicked off on Tuesday at the NY State Capitol with help from guitarist Samoa Moriki​ and a crew of hazmat suit protesters from Strong Economy for All Coalition​, Citizen Action of New York​, and MAYDAY.US​.


We hosted a hard-rock party on the Capitol’s steps to call attention to the toxic cash contaminating the building and shame these Senators into listening to their constituents, not their big donors.

We traveled with Cleanup Carl and a whole squad of rowdy, hazmat-suit wearing activists and set up shop right outside the NY Capitol’s entrance, to the delight of some passerby (and the disgust of folks who looked a lot like lobbyists and legislative staff). The rally kicked of with a hair-raising performance by NYC punk rock legend Samoa Moriki, who lent his guitar shredding skills to the cause of democracy. After a wowed crowd – including the Albany press corps- had gathered, Samoa handed it off to the Cleanup Crew.


Chris Tallent, leader of Carl’s Cleanup Crew, led off with an explanation

“We’re kicking off a toxic tour to expose the State Senators who are taking millions and millions of dollars in hedge fund cash, and not listening to the needs of everyday people! That’s a ripoff for New Yorkers! We’re talking about the carried interest loophole! That allows hedge fund managers to pay lower taxes. It’s a rigged system.”


Mike Kink, from Strong Economy for All, had more.


Hedge funds, he said, “use their wealth to buy rules that create more wealth for them and shut the rest of us out.” That’s exemplified by the carried interest tax loophole, “which lets billionaire hedge fund and private equity managers pay a lower rate than teachers.”


What do they do with their money? Kink explained: “It just so happens that the year we’re trying to close this loophole, the hedge funds showered campaign cash on five republican state senators who had close election races.”


After some more shredding from Samoa, Stanley Fritz from Citizen Action of NY finished up.


“In the Hudson Valley, in New York City, in Erie County, [these state Senators] are trying to follow the footsteps of billionaires, of millionaires, of people who want to stop progressive politics.”


“We want to put an end to hedge funds’ ability to buy their politicians. We want to stand up for working people…and the only way we can do that is to close the LLC loophole and to say no more to hedge funders purchasing Republicans or any other politicians.”


Needless to say, nobody had seen a protest like this one before.


After the rally outside, we took our corruption cleanup team inside to hand out flyers and caution tape to “warn” these five State Senators that their offices were irradiated with toxic hedge fund cash.

We tracked the scent of toxic hedge fund money to NY Senator Elaine Phillips‘ office. Phillips has received the most hedge fund cash of the five – a whopping $2,680,753.60!

We warned the Senator that her office is contaminated – but that she can clean herself up by closing the huge Wall Street tax loopholes which would provide up to 3.5 billion in funding for progressive priorities that will unrig our economy and political system.

Next, the toxic money trail led the Cleanup Crew to Terrence Murphy‘s office. He’s received $2,495,679.33 from hedge funds in exchange for keeping Wall Street loopholes open.

We warned his staff that if he doesn’t clean up his act, we’ll be seeing them in his district for an upcoming stop on our Toxic Tour!


Senator Sue Serino received $1,550,194.19 from toxic Wall Street Hedge Funds – so she was our third stop!

Her staffer insisted that the Senator wasn’t ignoring her voters – and we challenged her to prove it by closing the carried interest tax loophole and unrig our economy and political system. The staffer then had no comment.

We promptly declared the office a highly contaminated zone.

The Cleanup Crew headed next to visit Senator Carl Marcellino, who’s taken $930,221.60 in toxic dollars from hedge fund donors.

We told a surprised staffer that the office was contaminated and how to clean it up: start doing the work of your voters, not billionaire donors!

Finally, we tracked the rest of the toxic cash down at Senator Tom Croci‘s office. He’s taken $647,706.42 from toxic hedge fund billionaires and their PACs.


We told them how to clean themselves up, and warned them the Toxic Tour would be coming to a district office near them!