Richmond Tea Party has caused quite a stir this week. About a month ago, we grew tired of watching the City of Richmond apply a blatant double standard in their treatment of us and the Occupy Richmond group. We acquired every permit, paid every fee, and followed every rule as we used Kanawha Plaza to conduct our three April 15th tax day rallies. Occupy Richmond, however, camped out for two weeks in the same space and paid no fees, acquired no permits, and ignored the law. Yet the City of Richmond allowed them to stay and ultimately, we learned, even paid their bills, including providing toilets and cleanup (see the invoices here).
In the spirit of equal application under the law, RTP invoiced the city for a refund of all fees incurred for our rallies. We also asked our mayor for a list of those laws that are optional so we can have them for future reference.
What was our response from the city?
A tax audit, of course.
RTP volunteer Colleen Owens sums it up on Rightsidenews.com:
“So the City and Mayor apparently feels that the Richmond Tea Party has not paid its fair share for use of Kanawha Plaza. We challenged the Mayor’s unequal treatment between groups and he responds with even more unequal treatment.
This story has also fired up other Tea Party groups across the country that have had the laws and fees applied unequally in regards to Tea Party rallies and Occupy protest camps. The message coming from mayors in numerous cities is that they are willing to spend millions in taxpayer money to accommodate the Occupiers that are breaking the law but have no problem charging Tea Party groups that follow the law exorbitant fees and making them jump through hoops to acquire permits.(Yahoo News)
The Richmond Tea Party stands for constitutional adherence, and clearly this has been unequal treatment under the law. 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. A Richmond attorney and fellow Tea Partier is currently reviewing our situation. Also the ACLU has also contacted us inquiring about this matter.”
The City claims the timing of the audit was coincidental, that our organization just happened to come up for an audit as part of a comprehensive review they were conducting. They claim we didn’t pay our 2010 taxes (we didn’t owe any), which triggered the audit. Really? We had been operating in the city for three years with no questions from the city. Then within a week and a half of our invoicing them, they send the audit notification. That’s quite a coincidence, isn’t it?
Stay tuned to this story, as it’s not going away anytime soon. And I’m naturally sensing a future Voices of the Tea Party e-book about the entire saga after it all ends.