Don’t tread on . . . our Tea Party

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The Board of Directors of the South Atlanta Tea Party (SATP) has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to local candidates for any office linking the phrase “Tea Party candidate” to their campaign.

The bottom line to candidates, the board said in a June 8 letter, is that the SATP has not endorsed any candidate. The group also advised candidates not to try to cash in on the Tea Party name without an endorsement by the local organization.

The board said its goal is to promote forums, discussions and events to better inform voters and bring candidates into focus. Their concern was with those attempting to jump on the Tea Party bandwagon to garner votes but without being vetted and endorsed by the organization.

“Lately, it has come to our attention that some candidates, seeking the credibility associated with the ‘Tea Party’ image, are attaching a Tea Party affiliation to their candidacy. This is a wrong-headed effort on their part to capitalize on the Tea Party name and cash in on the values it represents,” the board’s letter said.

“Clearly, it is our goal to set the record straight. The SATP (as a group) has not endorsed any candidate at the local, state or national level. While each of us on the board may have personal voting preferences, or past affiliations with a candidate or party, our personal histories do not interfere with our dedication to providing opportunities for diverse thought and discourse during these challenging political times.”

“The very fact that each of us would become involved with a group like the SATP would suggest that personal liberty expressed at the ballot box is a commonly held desire of long standing that we all share. It is a desire that we feel compelled to share on a larger scale; hence, our dedication to the goals of the SATP and the Tea Party concept in general,” the letter said.

To that end, SATP board members put candidates for any office on notice that attaching the “Tea Party” slogan to one’s candidacy should not be done without the endorsement of the SATP.

“… we want to state unequivocally to all the voters and candidates that if in the future the SATP does choose to endorse a particular candidate or candidates, it will be announced by the SATP Board of Directors and well publicized. Any candidate who states that he/she is a ‘Tea Party candidate’ is now on notice that this is done at his or her own peril and without the endorsement of the SATP. Just because a candidate may try to make this claim does not mean it is the truth. Only our official endorsement makes such a claim a true statement,” the SATP letter said.

SATP President Cindy Fallon on Tuesday said the organization’s aim, both at the state and national level, is to promote forums, discussions and events that bring candidates into the focus of the voter. The SATP decided early on to focus on state and national issues, Fallon said, adding that there is another local organization that focuses on local issues.

“We believe that an informed electorate will make informed choices. So, it is always our goal to provide opportunities where candidates may present their ideas on how they would function if elected to a public office,” the board said. “We have never deliberately offered any forum where the prism is slanted to deliver a stilted self-serving message.”

SATP board members include Cindy Fallon, Scott Brown, Marguerite Kelly, Carol Springsteen, Phillip Kearns and Brian Graffius.