Why am I not surprised? Via the AP:
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Richmond Tea Party is being audited by the city in what the conservative activist group calls retaliation for seeking refunds for rally permits and fees.
The audit is outlined in a Nov. 14 letter by the city’s Department of Finance. It states the group has not paid admissions, lodging or meals taxes collected by the city, so is now being audited.
The Tea Party said Monday it has never charged an admission or offered meals or lodging associated with its rallies.
“Every month the forms are appropriately filled with zeros,” Tea Party spokeswoman Colleen Owens wrote in an email.
The group said the audit is punishment for its complaint that the city had charged it $8,500 for permits and other costs for rallies held in Richmond, while Occupy Richmond activists have not been assessed any costs related to their former occupation of a city-owned plaza.
The Tea Party sought a refund, unsuccessfully, from the city.
The Tea Party said Jones’ administration sought permit fees, portable toilets and other demands for their events, but had given Occupy Richmond a free pass.
The Occupy movement pitched tents for two weeks on a city-owned plaza until police cleared them out in a pre-dawn sweep on Oct. 31.
The occupation costs the city $17,640, primarily for police and public works overtime costs, according to a city accounting based on a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the AP.
The costs did not include a subsequent occupation on the lawn of the mayor’s neighbor.
Here’s the City of Richmond’s letter of notification to the Tea Party regarding the tax audit.
Colleen Owens herself wrote a piece at Big Government with even more details:
First some back story: as reported on the front page of the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Richmond Tea Party delivered an invoice for charges incurred in our previous three Tax Day rallies at Kanawha Plaza because Mayor Jones chose to allow Occupy Richmond protesters to convene in the same park for two weeks.
The Mayor not only allowed the Occupiers to break the law, but he visited them in the city-owned park. “Jones said that as a ‘child of civil rights’ and protests, he had allowed the group to remain in the park but understands his mayoral responsibility to uphold laws of the city,” reported the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Apparently his mayoral duties included preferential treatment for a group he sympathizes with ideologically at the expense of the taxpayers.
The blog Virginia Right reported that the city provided services such as portable toilets, trash pickup, etc. The incomplete invoices obtained from the city totaled $7,000. This was only a portion of the actual costs to taxpayers because the costs of police, helicopter and incarcerations were not included. Also not accounted for was the 24-hour police protection of the Mayor’s home after the Occupiers moved their camp next door to the Mayor’s house. The Richmond Tea Party, conversely, paid for all services for our rallies, including the police, portable toilets, park fees and permits, amounting to approximately $8,500.
Our actions apparently struck a nerve. Our invoice to the Mayor was covered by hundreds of news outlets, including the AP, Richmond Times Dispatch, Baltimore Sun, and the Washington Post. On October 31, I appeared on Fox Business, Neil Cavuto’s show, and was interviewed about our actions. Reportedly, at least two Richmond City Council members agreed with our plight. “I guess we’ll be writing a check to the Tea Party people,” said Councilman Bruce W. Tyler, as quoted in the Richmond Times Dispatch. “You can’t treat one group different from the other. It’s unfair.”
On November 14th, representatives of our Tea Party attended the City Council meeting to speak to the Mayor and Council during the citizen forum. Mayor Jones, apparently too busy to listen to his constituents, got up and left before we spoke. He had no problem inviting members of the Occupy group to his office for a closed door meeting days later, at the same time refusing to meet with us.
Hmmm. Sounds like liberal groups are being shown favoritism by a Mayor who is supposed to represent ALL the people, not just those who voted him into office. Please contact the Mayor’s office, especially if you are a resident of Richmondy, VA, and let his administration (politely but firmly) know what you think:
900 E. Broad St., Suite 201
Richmond, VA 23219 USA
Here’s contact information as well for Richmond City Council members. Click on the individual pictures for office phone numbers and email address links.