Duval GOP Chairman Addresses Tea Party ‘Controversy’
Duval County Republican Executive Committee (DCREC) Chairman Lenny Curry issued the following statement today in response to a blog-generated controversy regarding the DCREC's role in the First Coast Tea Party held on July 2nd.
A few people who attended the Tea Party carried signs which compared Barack Obama to Hitler and suggested his policies were fascist in nature. Among the hundreds of photos of the event posted to the Duval GOP's facebook, three included pictures of those individuals and their offensive signs.
A local blogger, Abel Harding of JaxPoliticsOnline, created a post which seemed to suggest that the Duval Republican Party had sponsored or paid for the event (they had not) and that those elected official and party leader who attended were somehow directly endorsing the homemade signs held by a few extreme individuals.
Chairman Lenny Curry's full statement on the matter follows:
"The DCREC had no role in the planning, organization, agenda, invitees, or speakers at the Tea Party. The DCREC merely used its extensive e-mail list to help promote awareness and participation in the event as a service to its members. The DCREC's e-mail included a "paid for" disclaimer which is required by state law regarding political communications. That disclaimer accompanies all of our communications and did not concern sponsorship of the event in question mentioned in the e-mail.
The DCREC does not condone racism or anti-Semitism in any form or fashion. While these types of behavior occur in small numbers -- and which are present in all political parties and cross all socio-economic lines - they should not, will not, and are not tolerated by the DCREC.
Unfortunately a few agenda-driven bloggers have taken the actions of a few individuals holding controversial signs who were present at the Tea Party and construed them to represent the views and beliefs of myself, elected officials present at the Tea Party, the DCREC, Tea Party organizers, and the thousand or so honest, hard-working people who were in attendance at the Tea Party.
I believe Tea Party officials made the right choice in not bringing further attention to those few people in attendance holding inappropriate signs by forcing them to leave or to put their signs away. Refusing them entry into this event or calling them out for their ridiculous signs would have given them a larger platform than they deserve.
As the philosopher Voltaire once said, 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.' I believe in this principle and I support the actions of the Tea Party organizers for allowing Free Speech to prevail.
Like most Republicans and concerned Americans, I don't have a problem with Barack Obama or the Democrat party; we have a problem with their policies and the tax and spend ways with which the Democrats are leading our country. Our children's future is one saddled with debt, a growing federal bureaucracy, and out of control government spending. While our party has responsibility for some of these conditions, remaining quiet about them now because we had a role in the past would be short-sighted and foolhardy.
As with most of my fellow Americans at the Tea Party, we wish to see a brighter day for America that includes fiscal restraint, and a smaller but more responsive government.
I regret that a few political opportunists have taken an event with an important message and attempted to muddle that message with lies and false charges.
The Duval County Republican Executive Committee is open and inclusive to all Americans who share our vision without regard to race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We have too many important issues to address to become bogged down in false charges made by a few rabble rousers.
My door remains open to those who wish to discuss the important issues of the day based on facts and good ideas."