One tea party chapter in Virginia is fighting back against what it has called a double standard for tea partiers and members of Occupy Wall Street, and, it alleges, the capital city of Richmond has punished the group for lodging complaints.
At the time of the Richmond Tea Party’s complaint, members of the occupy movement had been allowed to squat in Kanawha Plaza for two weeks, complete with a supportive visit from Richmond’s Democratic Mayor Dwight Jones. The city also picked up the nearly $7,000 tab for toilets and cleanup. Previously, the tea party had to fork over approximately $8,500 for its three one-day rallies in the park. The Richmond Tea Party alleges that, in retaliation for its request for a refund, the city hit it with a tax audit.
“The city and mayor apparently feels that the Richmond Tea Party has not paid its fair share for use of Kanawha Plaza,” tea party member Colleen Owens wrote. “We challenged the mayor’s unequal treatment between groups and he responds with even more unequal treatment.”
Fox News has reported that the government of Richmond disputes the allegations of targeted auditing, saying that the Richmond Tea Party was just one of 700 groups and businesses that hadn’t paid their excise taxes for 2010.
Owens told Fox that not only did the tea party’s special permits qualify it for an exemption from the tax, but the occupiers have not even obtained the proper permits.
“The Richmond Tea Party stands for constitutional adherence, and clearly this has been unequal treatment under the law,” Owens wrote. “We stand for fiscal restraint, and this is a case where a mayor uses taxpayer money for his personal agenda. We stand for virtue and accountability in government and that is why we have taken a stand. We will be submitting a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request for all city correspondence pertaining to our Tea Party and its decision to audit us. We will not be intimidated and we will not back down.”