"Do you have a meeting," one of Wyden's staff members asked the pierced lipped female activist dressed in a business suit.
"Yes," she replied curtly.
"Do you have a scheduled meeting?"
The woman paused. "No."
The line of questioning went on. "What's the name of your organization?"
"We don't have any affiliation."
On Tuesday morning, about 30 environmentalists filed into Sen. Wyden's office to protest what they claim is his chumminess with logging companies.
"He's working hand in hand with Bush timber policies," asserted one activist. Representatives from the group explained they are concerned about the large campaign donations Wyden collects from timber and forest product representatives. The activists also claimed that Wyden has sold out forest protections. Even though he's pushed for wilderness protections at Mt Hood, for example, the proposed bill includes a $4.5 million subsidy for logging companies.
"He's giving with one hand and taking with the other," the activist added.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wyden has received $72,292 from logging companies over the past four years; $33,500 in the past year alone. Compared to the nation's other 99 senators, this amount places Wyden as the third largest recipient from the lumber industry. Interestingly, it's five times more than that enjoyed by Sen. Gordon Smith--the state's Republican and allegedly more conservative senator.
"People don't understand that Wyden is making as many environmental rollbacks as Smith, and getting far more money," said another activist.
For about five minutes, the motley group lounged in Wyden's front office before one of his staff members agreed to meet with several representatives from the group. But when the activists couldn't decide who should represent them, the staff member threw up her hands. Meanwhile, activists began dumping bags of sawdust around the office, calling it "tree blood." Three beefy security guards pushed the activists out of the office. There were no arrests. PHIL BUSSE