Local MoveOn.org protestors are getting a free ride and the negative press their conservative counterparts have gotten is “baseless political mudslinging,” according to Florida Tea Partiers pushing back against accusations the group is skipping out on a hefty bill.
The South Florida Tea Party has been taking flak recently for an unpaid $6,000 bill issued by the city of Boca Raton, Fla. after the group held their 2011 Tax Day Tea Party on April 16. The event included guest speaker (and then-maybe-possibly presidential candidate) Donald Trump, and attracted well over 2,000 people, including plenty of media.
As the Sentinel Sun reported late last week, the city Boca Raton charged the Tea Party group for setting up event barricades near the highway as well as support officers at the rally.
Having Trump and a supposedly fiscally-responsible Tea Party group skip out on a bill is, of course, fodder for more liberal news publications. In a lengthy letter today, however, the SFTP leader, Everett Wilkinson says the barricades were set by the highway for nearly a week, and provided support for a MoveOn.org protest two days later.
“Barriers were set up on April 15th and removed April 19th despite the fact the Tax Day Tea Party was on April 16th,” said Wilkinson. “The city of Boca Raton set up the barriers for both the Tax Day Tea Party Event and a unrelated event on April 18th by Moveon.org. Why should SFTP pay for barriers for Moveon.org?”
The MoveOn.org event — another Tax Day rally, but obviously of a different nature — was organized at Sanborn Square, the same location as the Tea Party event. Unfortunately, the MoveOn.org protestors didn’t draw nearly the same crowd. The Palm Beach Post reported that about 40 people were in attendance.
“It is sad that elements in the City of Boca that dislike South Florida Tea Party would try to muddy the reputation of the tea party,” said Wilkinson. “We fully intend on paying for all fair charges.”
The cost of the barricades came to around $3,000 and Wilkinson is also requesting further details on the police support. While MoveOn.org may very well be responsible for some of the costs, Wilkinson’s letter was firm in defending the Tea Party’s actions, saying, “SFTP was practicing its right under ‘Freedom of Speech’ and was not legally required to pay anything. However, SFTP has always paid and intends to pay …”
The Daily Caller was unable to reach local members of MoveOn.org or a representative of the city of Boca Raton, which said it will absorb the costs if no group — liberal or conservative — ante’s up.