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Protesters, Blimp Follow Sen. Ron Wyden Around Oregon

What follows you wherever you go, no matter how fast you run? For most people, the answer would be your shadow, but if you’re Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the answer could also be a blimp.

The World newspaper in Coos Bay reports that the activist group, Fight for the Future, followed Wyden around eastern Oregon earlier last month at four town hall meetings with a 30-foot blimp that reads “Ron Wyden: It’s Up To You. Don’t Betray Us!”

Some members in Washington, D.C., parked a jumbotron outside the U.S. Capitol building Monday and played video of the blimp around Oregon to attract congressional staffers’ attention.

Wyden has been an advocate for net neutrality, Internet freedom and government transparency. He also serves as the Senate finance committee chairman. But the newspaper reports that Wyden’s recent negotiations with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, have rubbed the group the wrong way. Hatch is working on legislation for a “fast track” procedure for trade agreements, which would affect the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership between the U.S. and other Pacific Rim countries.

Fight for the Future says the agreement would hurt national sovereignty, Internet freedom, U.S. jobs and government transparency. Under the new partnership, the White House would be able to negotiate trade agreements behind closed doors, similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Wyden proposed a measure to require the administration to disclose trade negotiations to Congress in 2012, but it died in committee.

Fight for the Future believes that Wyden’s relationship with Hatch could influence whether this fast track legislation comes to fruition.

“We’ve been focusing all our attention on Wyden,” said Fight for the Future spokesman Evan Greer in an interview with the newspaper. “He holds the keys to making the decision.”

Wyden spokesman Keith Chu told the newspaper that the senator still supports transparency and free speech online, but he won’t have a position on the partnership until there is an agreement.

Ron Wyden

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