Commentary: Question of Whether They Support Tea Party Principles Causes Blogswarm

An earlier news story about the Republican infighting on Someone Noticed.

Our piece reporting that ballots for the Republican primary had to be rushed back to the printer has been at the center of a growing blogsworm for a couple of weeks.  Somehow it evolved from an exchange about that error to the place to go to question whether a slate of local Republican candidates could claim they support Tea Party principles.  As the often confusing debate, with claims and counter-claims churned over that big question, one reader wrote in about the confusion and we’re sure many more have the same reaction.  These sorts of confusing tangles often happen in Cecil County politics and there’s not much help in sorting out the real nature of the matter. But you can bet it involves a great deal of hidden Republican politics in this back and forth arguing that has the web spinning as each side posts challenging points of view.

The Cecil Whig gave it some coverage Thursday, reporting that the Cecil County Patriots were angered because the slate headed by Senator Pipkin and Del Smigiel advertised that they were “Tea Party Tested and Tea Party Approved.”  That component of a political advertisement caused the Cecil County Patriot’s to say this faction had “hijacked the group’s name and cause” as they weren’t endorsing candidates.  The paper printed Delegate Smigiel reaction: “I think it is quite arrogant of the Patriots to think that they are arbiters of the entire Tea Party Movement.”  J. P. Weber, an organizer of the Annapolis Tea Party added that “Smigiel has been with the Tea Party since its inception.   The reporter observed that “Delegate Smigiel and Senator E. J. Pipkin have been at the forefront of the Tea Party movement for several years in Cecil County.  That largely sums up the way the newspaper handled the story but you may read the entire piece in the Sept. 9th issue of the newspaper. 

Here’s our take as non-involved people make some attempt at sorting it out.  The Whig had it right when it reported that Delegate Smigiel was in the forefront of the movement advocating Tea Party like principles, long before the county had a group that identified itself as the Cecil County Tea Party. We covered several intense county budget sessions when there was no such organization, but the Delegate and Senator were there arguing in support of everyday citizens that simply wanted taxes lowered. The Charlestown meeting in that pre-tea party era was particularly intense. Over a few years the political and public pressure increased until this year the county for the first time in a long, long time held the line on a tax increase.

That fight over an increased levy caused political infighting since Republicans held a majority on the county board.  At the time we reported that for as long as we could remember, the county commissioners quietly raised taxes, but in recent years the board has been under sharp criticism for approving increases.  As the board inched toward a decision on the 2011 rate, candidates involved in this latest fray, such as the Young Republicans and Cecil Citizens Against  Taxation, took strong stands against levying a larger financial burden, especially after some candidates campaigned on not raising taxes.   That brought them up against some of the older party establishment.

Sometime after those early confrontations started the Cecil County Tea Party came along and the Delegate and Senator were there with them as they formed the movement and held rallies. Whatever happened to that initial group or if there are two groups competing, we don’t know.  Nor are we familiar with the internal politics of these Tea Party or Patriot Groups in the county so we’re not of many help from that aspect.

But we were surprised to see this argument about who supports tea party principles because we never had any question about that as leaders at the center of this storm always met the test of promoting those principles from our standpoint of reporting the news. They were doing that long before the movement took shape nationally and locally. Certainly these sorts of disruptions can’t be helpful, if they have a common goal of arguing for lower taxes and smaller government.

We suspect that this has lots more to do with old fashioned Cecil County Republican politics and informal behind the scenes control by older established members of the local party.  Part of it originates during the internal fights following the Republican controlled boards vote to raise taxes, after some campaigned on not raising taxes.  We also suspect it has lots to do with the FOP labor contract argument that just kept the county swirling around as Senator Pipkin and Del Smigiel stood with the rank and file deputies, proposing to let the citizens’ vote on the public policy matter since the issue was deadlocked at the county level. That too put them at odds with other Republicans.  Again we’re not sure about the internal Patriot politics that drives this, but this larger fight as members of the Republican Party’s central committee and other elected officials jump into the fight.

A screen capture from Delegate Smigiel's Blog challenging a tax increase approved by Republican Commissioners.


26 responses to “Commentary: Question of Whether They Support Tea Party Principles Causes Blogswarm

  1. Please re-read the comment on the “oops” thread posted by Andrew Langer, who is not from Cecil County, on the local Patriots group and Del. Smigiel. Mr. Langer, who is a national tea party leader and major figure in conservative issues on the Shore and elsewhere, disagrees with your assessment. Mr Langer is not a participant in local Cecil County Republican politics. His dismay at the attacks on the Patriots, and the language and tactics used against them and others, bears re-reading in this context.

  2. Mike. I’ve been trying to keep up with your latest controversy regarding the “Tea Tested/Approved” flier and the more substantive issues, and comments, it has generated. It’s certainly caused quite a stir. The question I have is: Why haven’t the Patriots or the other Tea Party group endorsed candidates they believe adhere most closely to their principles? Certainly, some folks running for office are more supportive than others of lower taxes, small government, reduced spending and adherence to constitutional law. By not advising Tea Party followers on which candidates are better suited to represent Tea Party interests, the group seems to have left a void that has been filled by the initiative of the politically savvy Smigiel/Pipkin group. Politics isn’t a tee-ball game for six year olds where “everyone is a winner.” If the Tea Party movement in this county believes it’s purpose is to hold patriotic rallies (which I have attended and applaud) and sponsor candidate forums and debates (which I’ve also appreciated)–but not announce who fits their group’s ideals best, they might as well hook up with the League of Women’s Voters to sponsor a larger series of debates during the next election cycle. This non-endorsement attitude is disappointing. Is the group’s hands-off approach limited to primary elections? If asked, will the Cecil Tea Parties give nods to Kratovil, Milkulski or O’Malley over their respective Republican opponents? Would Sharon Angle (Nevada), Rand Paul (Kentucky), Joe Miller (Alaska) or Scott Brown (Massachusetts) have been elected if those state Tea Party groups maintained a non-endorsement approach? I am not questioning the local county groups’ right to withhold endorsements of candidates. They are the ones working throughout the year to stir up voter interest and spotlight anti-Washington/big government sentiment. I’m wondering if it is doing what’s best for itself and its followers with the white-glove, “we don’t endorse” approach. If someone else—touting a proven, long time, conservative track record (which matches nationally recognized Tea Party principles) decides to tout that experience and fill an obvious void, then I think, as Shakespeare said, they “doth protest too much.”

    • Ed, Good comments!! Conservatives and liberty-minded people need to be about action, not just about rallies, protests and mere words. Thanks for your insight into the thoughts of the every day Cecil County citizen.

    • That taped phone call the other night I guess went to all Republicans if I got the call. Wasn’t that from the patriots saying which candidates to vote for? They must have changed their mind and endorsed candidates. What a mess. What a mess. How would anyone know what the truth is about conservative principals with such stuff going on.

  3. The problem with the Patriots, is not the idea behind it, but what it has become. Its members have wanted to pick a fight with the Cecil County Young Republican Club, the Cecil County Fiscal Conservative Central Committee team, the Cecil County Women’s Republican Club, Delegate Smigel, and State Sen E.J. Pipkin.

    This toxic brand of politics is not what the “Tea Party” is supposed to be like or as Ronald Reagan said “Not to attack your fellow Republican”. For example Ted Kolodzey has forgot this by slandering Smigel and Pipkin. The Patriots are good but its leadership needs to be changed to be more effective, Donna Caudell letter in the Cecil Times attacking the Fiscal Conservative Central Commitee Team, which acts a faux independent journalism site shows that the Patriots are no longer neutral. If they dont want to change their leaders in the Patriots, then they will just become another force out of politics as quick as they came.

    We in the Cecil County Young Republican Club, pride ourselves on helping people make the best decision regarding their vote and even when there isnt elections we are doing many things to educate the county public. The Patriots might be more national oriented, I am too, but I care about what happens on the local level too, we all live here first. And before I am attacked for not caring about the national level and conservative candidates, I challenge the Cecil County Patriots to see if they done for me to educate people on Twitter, of Congressmen with true conservative values running for re-election or election across the country. In Michigan 1, I led a charge to get many people to join Dan Benishek’s Facebook group after the Bart Stupak sellout on healthcare, has the Patriots done something like that? Or they more talk than actual results? I think it is the latter and they are resorting to mudslinging tactics which are more expected of the Democratic Party.

  4. Mike, Thanks for posting this perspective. It’s unfortunate that the Patriots’ leadership have chosen to engage in conflict with other like-minded true fiscal conservatives who are fighting for small limited government, instead of teaming up and working together for our common liberties.

    • Josue: How much have you been paid by various Smipkin “groups” for website development? Please provide a breakdown by entity.

  5. It is my opinion and personal belief that, again, everyone is missing the ENTIRE point. That point being, the Cecil County Patriots made a decision early on that they WOULD NOT ENDORSE candidates. Period. Mr. Smigiel persists in throwing a …hissy fit because from the beginning of the Cecil group he repeatedly said to members “you’re going to have to endorse candidates. You’re going to have to endorse candidates”. When they did not he took it personally that the local tea party group did not endorse him, as they said they would not endorse ANYONE and then the political games began.

  6. Delegate Mike Smigiel

    Mr. Okonowitcz

    I thank you for taking an objective look at this debate. I do not know how my labeling those who pledged to adhere to what I believe to be the universal TEA PARTY principles of LESS TAXES, LESS GOV’T SPENDING AND THE CREATION OF PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS became a slight to the group calling themselves the Patriots. Any candidate who was willing to pledge to adhere to the test of those three principles could have been approved.

    I was present at the first meeting to the new organization called the Patriots, I am a member and never considered them to be the sole arbiter of what constitutes being whatever the nebulous term “Tea Party” means.

    There have been disagreements between the leadership in the Patriots group and myself and Senator Pipkin, primarily over our position on submitting legislation to force the Commissioner’s to keep their pre-election promises on taxes and other matters. When the bill was being heard to force the County Commissioner’s to adhere to constant yield, and thus to keep their promise not to raise property taxes, the only person who showed up in support of our bill was the President of the Cecil Citizens Against Taxation, Mr. Chris Zeauskas. The leaders of the Patriot’s organization were supportive of Commissioner Hodge on another issue at the time and thus refused to come and testify in favor or passing the legislation to freeze property taxes and instead ended up supporting the position of the person who had hired a lobbyiest, at taxpayer expense, for approximately $6,000 to fight against the constant yield property cap bill. At this time I stopped being active in the organization because it was hard for me to be working for a tax cap and to force public officials to keep their campaign promises and to simultaneously support a group that at best refused to get involved in the tax increase fight and at worst was working to support the commissioner’s position of allowing the constant yield property tax increase to go forward once again. This tax had been increased every year for over twenty years already!

    I think Mike Dixon is correct in that much of this current argument is related to internal republican politics since the leadership of the Patriots, Donna Caudell and Jackie Gregory are both running for elected office against the members of the Republican Fiscal Conservative Central Committee Team who took the Tea Party test of pledging to work for less taxes, less gov’t spending and the creation of private sector jobs. I believe if the Patriot’s leadership were required to defend their previous lack of adherence to these principles, as in the case of the constant yield tax debate, they would not fair well against those members of the Republican Fiscal Conservative Central Committee Team who have an extensive history of actually working for the principles they have pledged to support.

    For those who say these principles have nothing to do with being a Republican Central Committee Member, I remember sitting in the Central Committee Meeting when I and others were being chastised for having said and written bad things about Commissioner Hodge, who was also a central committee member, because he broke his promise not to raise taxes. The Central Committee leaders, Mr. Carabetta, Mr. Amato, and Mr. Hodge were all about “never saying anything bad about a fellow republican”. When I argued we have to point out those Republicans who break their campaign promises and go on to raise taxes or we will have no credibility when we point out the Democrats who do so, I was told the Central Committee would prefer to spin the situation to say “It would have been much worse had the republicans not have done what they did to limit the increase in taxes.” The Central Committee wanted us to accept the Democratic fallacy that, if a projected increase did not go as high as expected or recommended that amounted to a decrease.

    When the Republican Central Committee accepts Democrat logic to explain a member’s failure to do the right thing as an elected official and vote against tax increases, then the Central Committee is surrendering its moral authority to later chastise or criticize their political opponent. That is why it is important to have members who are Tea Party Tested and Tea Party Approved.

    • Delegate Mike Smigiel: Let me begin by thanking you for authorizing me to criticize a fellow Republican (Para. 5) who fails to live up to his campaign promises to not raise taxes by creating a perfect storm that will force the County Commissioners to raise taxes in order to operate the county. On the one hand you pander to the “no tax increase” voters while on the other hand you pander to the FOP voters by pushing for collective bargaining with binding arbitration. In paragraph 1 you state that you label (as Tea Party tesed and Tea Party approved) those who pledged to adhere to what YOU “believe to be the universal TEA PARTY principles” while in paragraph 2 you state that you “never considered them (Cecil County Patriots) to be the sole arbiter of what constitutes being whatever the nebulous term Tea Party means”. So then, are you the sole arbiter?

      As I recall, your problems with the Patriots began when you promoted the aforementioned tax policy dichotomy. Mr. Chris Zeauskas enjoys the title of “President” of the Cecil Citizens Against Taxation. It is only an e-mail list begun when you and Sen Pipkin were in your “Appeal your tax assessment ”
      mode. To my knowledge there has never been a meeting of that “group”. If provided with minutes I will gladly correct this statement. Cecil County has a five member board of commissioners and no one person “hired a lobbyist at taxpayer expense”.
      The RFCCC Team taking your pledge is getting tiresome. I get it. Anyone who agrees with you is OK.

      Now back to paragraph 5. I was the primary “leader” who objected to your demand for a letter to the Cecil Whig denouncing Republican commissioners Hodge, Demmler and MULLIN (a member of the RFCCC Team). The Central Committee subsequently voted to not send a letter to the Whig because we could not agree on the language.

      In the final line you state “That is why it is important to have members who are Tea Party Tested and Tea Party Approved”. In other words, as you stated, “those who pledged to adhere to what I believe”.

      [last paragraph about personal financial matters removed by Someone Noticed.]

  7. What a can of worms, we got here. Smigiel vs. the Patriots, different county Republican groups bragging on their records and interests, bunch of politicians going head to head. Ya gotta love it. Then there’s these flag waving groups, seems like they been working all year long to spread the word, just so they can go outta their way to NOT endorse candidates and help folks like me decide who’s best to pull the lever on. It’s just like the Hatfields and the McCoys. I’m thinking there’s gonna be a red hot debate before November between the Cecil Tetleys and the Patriot Liptons. I’m down here at a store outside Cecilton, not far from the farm. They got Wi-Fi and all that web connection set up. After reading that one guy’s note, I went to my sample ballot and couldn’t find any Shakespeare listed anywhere. Is he running in tomorrow’s Democrat or Republican primary?. He seems like a smart one, that fella. If I can, I’m gonna vote for him whether or not he’s Tea Party Tested and Approved.

  8. Delegate Mike Smigiel

    Well Zogloba,

    The Bard also said, ” A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

  9. Mr. Amato,
    Despite some of our political disagreements, seeing you often at events throughout the year and our engaging conversations has led me to consider you a friend. However, it is unfair to put the FOP in the middle of this issue as if we’re some sort of pawn. The Cecil County deputies are professional police officers comprised of honorable men & women dedicated to keeping you & your family and all of Cecil County citizens safe, no matter the personal cost. You may agree or disagree with collective bargaining for deputies and that is your God-given right (a right we swore an oath to defend). But you should not brand us as some special interest group to be “pandered to.” In the last two years alone, cops in Cecil County have been shot, shot at, seriously assaulted and injured with disturbingly regular occurrence- all in the line of duty. With respect sir, they do not deserve to be trivialized.

    • Adam,
      I consider you a friend and have the greatest respect for you and your fellow Deputies. I agree with everything you say regarding the Deputies. I did not trivialize their service. I did not insert you in the Tea Party issue. I was using the tax cap/binding arbitration positions of Delegate Smigiel as an example of hypocrisy. The tax cap concept pleases those voters who want LESS TAXES. However, inflation will raise costs over time and the only alternatives to raising property taxes are to reduce services or find another source of revenue. Historically, binding arbitration raises salaries and those decisions are made by a third party who does not have to worry about funding the increased costs. If the Commissioners raise taxes to pay for increased costs they will have violated Delegate Smigiel’s rule of LESS TAXES rule . Binding arbitration will violate his LESS GOV’T SPENDING rule. He will have garnered votes with these positions while leaving the County Commisioners to face the wrath of the voters. Clever.

      The FOP is a special interest group when seeking legislators’ help on receiving the benefits of binding arbitration. This is not an evil thing. In return, the legislators expect your votes. This, also, is not evil. You endorsed elected officials and candidates in this election whom you expect to support your agenda. I attended your crab feast where you presented awards to those supporting your agenda. If the term pandering offends you, I apologize and substitute the term “seeking votes”.

  10. Well put, Adam. I think it is important to point out two facts. First, the deputies are constituents and have a right to ask their state delegates to address their issues. Mike Smigiel is well known for his exemplary constituent service. It is no surprise to me that he would give his help to them. Second, people should remember that state laws were passed that removed the free market aspect from police force employment issues (it is illegal for them to strike, etc.). Allowing our uniformed officers (or other county employees) to earn a competitive salary does not imply a need to raise tax rates. The county budget is composed of thousands of expenses. For instance, the new county office building is far nicer than the building I go to work at each day, and I work for one of the largest corporations in the world. Perhaps more modest accommodations could have resulted in yearly cost savings. both in terms of the bond required to build and the energy required to run the building.

    Ultimately, though, this is the only item that Del. Smigiel’s detractors can provide to paint him as having increased taxes. They are willing to throw all the deputies under the bus in order to argue that point.

    • Bob,

      The Deputies were not thrown under the bus. They are central to the argument that increasing costs and reducing the ability to pay is not sound policy. Facts are facts. If a different employee group were in the same situation I would have mentioned them. The issue is hypocrisy.

      • Bob, what you’re missing is that there are those that have no problem cutting pay increases for our deputies (that I think aren’t paid enough as it is), but refuse to lower excessive spending on all sorts of unnecessary county expenses (such as our ever growing county education bureaucracy). You’re right — the issue is hypocrisy.

        • Josue’,
          You are long on allegations and short on facts. Have you ever provided examples of excessive (formerly known as wasteful) spending? When was the last post on your Cecil County Spending site?

  11. On an earlier post, there was confusion about what the TEA party movement actually is, and this seems to be being portrayed as a “turf” war, which I assure you this is not. The TEA party belongs to the people; it is a serious movement in this country in which a lot of average people have donated hours of their time for one purpose: to restore America to its founding principles. The fact is, this slate involves several local candidates who have had no ties to the TEA party movement, even though the TEA party has been very active in Cecil and surrounding areas.

    I can only speak as to my own experience and my connections with the TEA party and give you a historical perspective from that vantage point. I initially became involved with a group of concerned people who put together a meet up in Newark on March 13, 2009. I had increasingly become worried about the direction our country was heading and had become very alarmed about the failure of the political parties to represent the people as our founders intended. The March meeting in Newark drew a crowd of 150 people from Delaware and Maryland who felt similar concerns. It was at this meeting that the 9/12 project was unveiled. ( For those who don’t know, 9/12 was chosen as its name because on 9/10/2001, we as Americans were either busy playing partisan politics or not paying attention to what was going on. On 9/11 we were in a pit of despair. On 9/12 we didn’t need the government to tell us what to do. People gave money, blood, and prayed. We began to focus on what was really important. We were not Republicans and Democrats, just Americans. However, before too long, partisan politics took over again. )

    People at the meeting had a chance to talk and express our concerns and what we could do about it. The consensus was that we were tired of yelling at our TVs or sitting around and complaining. We wanted to do something about it. The roots of the TEA party is not about partisan politics, but the basic principles upon which our country was founded, the principles which made America great to begin with.

    From that first meeting developed a group which is known as Founder’s Values in Delaware. Both Donna and myself and some others from Cecil County became involved in that group. We had discussions regarding the TEA parties that were starting to erupt around the country as a show of solidarity among many average Americans that we wanted our country back. I believe the first actual TEA party event in America took place in February 2009. We were not happy with the current state of affairs as the political scene had drifted far away from what our founders had intended. Donna Caudell, my sister, organized the first TEA party in Wilmington on April 15th which drew over 500 like-minded people . The evening before, I had been searching on the web, and found that there was going to be a tea party in Elkton as well. The organizer’s name was Diana Broomell. I stopped by the Elkton event before heading up to the Wilmington TEA party and found 200 people standing in the rain, signs and flags in hand. After that, I contacted Diana Broomell, and found out that she was organizing a second TEA party on July 4th. I learned that a national tea party was going to take place in DC on 9/12, so I asked Diana if I could set up a table at the July 4th protest so that people could sign up for on the trip. We ended up chartering 5 busses to participate in the 9/12 march; people gave their money and time to attend the event.

    With Diana’s help, I was able to network with people in the summer of 09 to organize a small protest (of about 12 people) during the work day outside of congressman Kratovil’s Bel Air office in relation to the cap and trade legislation. Some of the people from the July 4th tea party participated with me that day in handing out literature on Cap and Trade legislation and are now also active in the Patriots. There were several other events in the summer of 09, including a roundtable discussion with Congressman Kratovil which I attended and met other people who are now active in the CC Patriots as well, and an impromptu town hall at the North East library. At that particular event, Diana convinced Congressman Kratovil to change the format from a one on one meeting with citizens to a town hall, because well over 100 people showed up with questions about the stimulus, cap and trade, and proposed healthcare legislation. There were several other events in Bel Air, and I met Al Reasin, who has been very involved from the beginning at the Wilmington, Cecil, and Harford events. Some people know him as the corner guy. I met many of the people who are now involved with the Cecil County Patriots at these events. Diana, Donna, Al, and I and many other people who I would characterize as “TEA party people,” because of their regular grassroots involvement in and commitment to the movement, went to a Ben Cardin Town Hall on healthcare in Towson as well. We began having discussions about having an ongoing group in Cecil because there was a lot of interest, but no organization like the Harford and Delaware groups had. Starting the Cecil County Patriots was just a way of moving the tea party movement forward in Cecil County, to provide more opportunities for like-minded citizens to network and communicate, and to work within our community to advance TEA party principles. Donna and I had actually talked for a few months before starting the Cecil County Patriots, because we saw the impact of other groups and that they were able to be proactive on issues, but we knew it was a big responsibility and would take a lot of time. We were hesitant about doing it for those reasons. She works 2 jobs and I have children and work part time from home, and we knew that we would have to sacrifice a lot of time to begin an organization, but we finally decided to do it, because it was needed. It’s like the old saying, “If you don’t do it, who will?” So we started the Cecil County Patriots. There are no competing groups, just a few of us who have been involved at the grassroots level in one aspect or another from the beginning, who decided that some organization was important to keeping the movement alive and making it more effective.

    No one owns the TEA party label, but we are the only organized tea party group that has been active in Cecil County. Many of our members were part of the original Cecil County Tea Party that was started by Diana Broomell. We are just a bunch of grassroots individuals who are concerned and have become active. We focus on researching issues, activism in response to issues, and educating voters. We do not endorse people, but we do endorse principles. We are non-partisan and have the same expectations for both Republicans and Democrats. We won’t give a pass to anyone because they belong to a certain party. Not endorsing enable us to hold everyone accountable. Unlike many of the other groups that have existed in the past, TEA party members don’t just complain about what is happening. We realize that we must educate ourselves and others and take responsibility for holding our leaders accountable and finding solutions. As a TEA party organization, we have networked with other grassroots TEA party organizations across the state, and even at the national level with the TEA Party Patriots organization.

    This slate of candidates which has Senator EJ Pipkin at the top is comprised of local candidates who have given lipservice to tea party principles, but have not been involved in activism at the grassroots level. Some of them have no involvement with the tea party whatsoever, even though the TEA party has been alive in Cecil County since at least April of 2009. At least one candidate broke a “no new taxes pledge” after he was elected. When we organized a bus go to DC just before the passage of the healthcare overhaul, we specifically invited the members of the Republican clubs, many of whom are on this slate, to participate in this with us because we felt that they should be at the forefront of this issue for the sake of their constitutency, but we couldn’t get even one of them to go with us. Despite this, we were able to fill a bus of citizens who spent their day in DC making their voices heard on this issue. In all the events I participated in and helped organize over the past year- TEA Party rallies in Annapolis, Towson, DC, Harford County, Cecil County, and Delaware, the candidates on the slate did not participate and did not lend time and energy in organizing or helping out with these events. The commissioner candidates refused to participate in a debate sponsored by the Cecil County Patriots. They have been slandering the group on blogs and on facebook, even resorting to calling us Nazis. Yet they run an ad with the TEA party approved label? On the other hand, there are individuals who have been consistently active in the movement who are running for Central Committee and Commissioner positions.

    Senator Pipkin has supported some policies which are aligned with TEA party principles and many which are not. Del. Smigiel has supported and sponsored many pieces of legislation which the TEA party has also supported. We gave him credit for those things in our legislative guide which we distibuted to our members. At the same time, we took Senator Pipkin and Smigiel to task during the last legislative session, because they violated a TEA party principle regarding local decisions being made at the local level. In their initial bill, the referendum did not include a choice for a conservative voter like me. In the final passage, the delegation pushed through legislation they wanted without the consent of the local government or the people.

    As issues come up, we will support our Delegates whomever they may be when they support TEA party principles; when they are wrong, we will speak out. That is what the TEa party is about- educating voters about our founding principles, issues, and holding elected officials accountable to those principles and to “we the people.” This may anger some politicians and cause them to try to destroy our credibility. Politicians aren’t used to such scrutiny and accountablility from their constituency. Politicians have also recognized the impact the TEA party has had on our country, and we have seen in many races in the country, an attempt by politicians to coopt the TEA party name for their own political benefit.

    The Cecil County Patriots have not approved or endorsed even their own members, and candidates who are in the group have not included the TEA party name or the Cecil County Patriot name on their literature. We do have many people running for office, some of whom are running against the particular candidates on the slate. Those who are running are doing so on a platform of principles and are not being led by any politician. That is contrary to TEA party principles. There is no hierarchy in the TEA party, because it is made up of concerned citizens who are united under core principles.

    Many people in the TEA party, even beyond those on the steering committee, have donated hours of their time to research and learn the issues and to actually get involved. If the TEA party were to endorse candidates, we would look for those few candidates who have dedicated more than just lipservice to TEA party principles. We would look for those who volunteered to lead the movement or assist in moving it forward in a constructive way. Standing on the sidelines and saying, “I agree with what you are doing,” doesn’t make you tea party approved.

    Del. Smigiel has spoken at TEA Parties. He also has sponsored and supported legislation that protect our Constitutional rights. That is what the people pay him to do. That does not give him the authority to bestow a tea party approval on anyone he likes. He doesn’t have the “Midas touch” and the TEA party does not emanate from him. If a TEA party leader in Annapolis told Delegate Smigiel that he has done a great job representing TEA party values, that praise is not transferrable.

    The slate itself is a hierarchy, a team led by politicians at the top. This itself violates TEA party principles. TEA party candidates are led by no one and are accountable only to the people and TEA party principles. The TEA party is grassroots, and this slate does not represent a grassroots involvement.

    Many are asking why we did not endorse to make it easier for voters. Our goal is not to tell people who to vote for, but to give them information that allows them to make that decision in a responsible way. We also don’t want candidates pandering to us for the sake of an endorsement.

    We are rookies, new to active involvement in politics, so it may be that we should have provided more organization in this election so that the people could know who has been actively involved in the TEA party. We will certainly learn from our mistakes as we move forward.

    My concern with this ad was for the many people out there who have not been actively involved for one reason or another, but agree with what we are doing and respect the efforts of the individuals who have been active. They are looking for “TEA party candidates”, and will likely be misled into believing the candidates in this slate are grassroots. Instead, they will be getting a politician-led “team” of candidates. In fact, I first learned about the ad through a phone call from someone who knew of me, but who has not been active in our group. She was confused, because she wanted to vote for people who had been active in the TEA party and didn’t see any names she recognized on the slate. She was wondering if these were the candidates being supported by the local TEA party. The purpose of this ad is to capitalize on voters who may not be connected with the local TEA party physically, but are in spirit. It would have been irresponsible if we had not informed voters what this slate is, and what it is not.

  12. Note to Readers:
    This is a quote from an email sent to Donna by Delegate Smigiel: “I understand that “TEA party” is a nebulous term …” This is from “Dixie Bear’s post on Sept. 7, 2010 “After all, the term “Tea Party” is somewhat nebulous.” Another of Smigiel’s posts today reads, “I … never considered them to be the sole arbiter of what constitutes being whatever the nebulous term “Tea Party” means.”

    Delegate Dixie Bear: It is very unbecoming of your position as a state delegate representing the citizens of Cecil County to compare average citizens who disagree with your behavior to Hitler and Mussolini and to a lunatic fringe as you do later in the posting under Dixie Bear on Sept. 7th. To do so without using your real name is gutless. That post can be read here:
    To compare our patriotic shirts TEA party shirts to the brown shirts of Mussolini is outrageous.

    Another quote from Delegate Dixie Bear’s blog post on Sept. 7: Those who pledged adherence to these Tea Party principles are “Tea Party Tested, Tea Party Approved” according to Delegate Smigiel.
    Delegate Dixie Bear does not speak for the TEA Party, and is not responsible for vetting candidates for the TEA Party. Did Delegate Smigiel forget that at least one of the members of his “Fiscal Team” already violated a pledge not to raise taxes last year? Or did that member earn forgiveness from his “leader” when he funneled unapproved documents from a commissioner’s session into Del. Dixie’s hands?

    When we at the Patriots made a decision not to actively support the tax cap at the state level, we did so after much thought, realizing there were 2 conflicting values; we wanted local control to stay with the people locally, but we also wanted lower taxes. We, as a TEA party organization, believed that it was up to the voters to hold our local officials accountable to lower taxes. We didn’t want the state controlling our local government. The decision became easier when we saw some of the other legislation being proposed by Sen. Pipkin and Del. Smigiel that was in opposition to TEA party or fiscally conservative principles- State imposed arbitration legislation for sheriff’s deputies and placing the burden of teacher’s pensions on local government, after having voted to increase those same penions in 2006. On that note, local responsibility for teacher’s pensions would be acceptable if the pension were negotiated locally to begin with. Also, since the state would relieve itself of that burden, a tax cut should accompany it. For the state to spend more and then give the locality the bill when they can no longer pay it is irresponsible. I believe that is what we call an unfunded mandate. We decided local decisions should stay local and we would fight taxes the TEA party way, by showing up at meetings, contacting the commissioners, and informing people. The easy way would be to rely on the state, but we acted in a way that was consistent with our principles. And it worked. I encourage anyone to ask the commissioners what most influenced them to stay with constant yield, the bully tactics of Delegate Dixie or the actions of the citizens who got involved? It would be hypocritical for the TEA party to rely on our state leaders to rescue us in one instance and then tell them to get out of our business when it didn’t suit us. We believe the power must stay as local as possible. It is the obligation of the people to speak up if they want the commissioners to take action.

    On the issue of arbitration, we had a gut feeling about what we should do about the issue based on TEA party principles, but we took it to our membership to get their response. The response was overwhelmingly against the proposal of Senator Pipkin and Del. Smigiel. So we decided to take a stand against it.

    There are candidates who have been involved with the TEA party running for Central Committee, which is a volunteer position; it is not a position of prestige and power, but one of service. I certainly hope that good candidates do get on the committee, because this committee’s job is to represent voters. Win or lose, I will continue doing the same thing I have been doing, focusing on the issues as they arise and supporting liberty-oriented principles as they arise.

  13. Mr. Amato,
    Fair enough 😉

  14. Well stated Jackie.

    I have watched the Harford, Cecil and Delaware movement grow since February of 2009 and expand even more as I took to my first corner over a year ago. I saw then a need to do more than ever so often attend a rally. I began the picketing of politician’s offices and then in August of 2009 began Standing on corners with my flag and signs. I began to realize I had less of an impact on government alone than organized groups so I continued my participation in rallies and actions with the Newark 912 and the Harford Campaign for Liberty organizations.

    Those of us on the Cecil County Patriots steering committee started out on our own missions, but the founding of the Cecil County Patriots by Jackie and Donna in Cecil pulled us into an organization in our own county that was needed and was built on the TEA Party and 912 principles that we had strived so hard to follow individually previously.

    I become angered when politicians attempt to co-opt an organizations and them turn on it when they fail to succeed; when that organization is a civic minded, grassroots organization it is even worse since the disdain for the citizens supporting said organization is very apparent.

    Power is said to corrupt and we have seen that in action recently in Cecil County.

  15. Very well said indeed Jackie. Jaclyn Gregory and Donna Caudell epitomize the meaning of the Tea Party movement. Both have given of their time and finances and sacrificed for a cause they, as well as I, truly believe in. I have known Delegate Smigiel for over 15 years and could not possibly be more disappointed with his actions to openly criticize and work against conservatives who highly value fiscal responsibility, smaller government and yes, lower taxes. How unfortunate that he chooses to be a divider and not a uniter at a time when our country needs strong conservatives to lead the way. Muddying the political waters and stirring the pot to the point that even experienced political junkies are confused is just unacceptable. Delegate Smigiel, swallow your pride and make amends as there are elections to win and much work to be done. I pray that God will visit you with the power of His Holy Spirit and allow for this to happen, in Jesus’ name.

  16. Billye Jo Jackson

    People who live in glass houses SHOULD NOT THROW STONES !

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