Tea party organizer George Burton, addressing a smaller than usual tea party crowd Tuesday, criticized Crow Wing County Republicans, claiming that they discouraged participation and urged scheduled speakers to cancel their appearances at Tuesday's rally.
Burton said Crow Wing County GOP members were upset when he wouldn't share e-mail addresses of people who have attended tea party rallies with the Republicans.
"Things got pretty ugly," he told the crowd, stating that a certain party (which he named later in an interview) had tried to convince Leon Moe, state coordinator of the Minnesota Tenth Amendment Center, to cancel his speech.
George Burton, a tea party organizer and a Constitution Party candidate for the 8th Congressional District, spoke to a crowd of about 30 people Tuesday at the Historic Crow Wing County Courthouse. Burton said he's resisted Republican requests to obtain tea party e-mail listings.
Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey
Burton, one of three Constitution Party-endorsed candidates, who spoke at the rally, said the tea party was nonpartisan and steered clear of choosing candidates.
"The real tea party doesn't endorse candidates," Burton said.
n an interview after the rally, Burton, who is candidate for the 8th Congressional District, said county GOP officials distributed an e-mail discouraging participation at the event because they claimed some candidates would be allowed to speak while others would not.
"They have been leaning on me to get my e-mail list," Burton said. "They have pushed and shoved."
He said when he gathered the tea party e-mail list he promised people he would not give their names to political parties. He said he does not use them in his own campaign.
Doug Kern, chair of the Crow Wing County, addressed the crowd but could not be reached after the event to respond to Burton's statements. Kern criticized President Barack Obama's address to school children, maintaining that it was part of the National Education Association agenda coming straight from the White House.
Kern took heart that he found respondents on a liberal website who agreed with him that schools were no place for politics.
Peggy Erickson, who described herself as an independent but who was a Republican delegate, said Tuesday night in a phone interview that she had concerns the tea party event was not a nonpartisan event. She said she communicated with Moe and expressed her concern about the event.
Most of those in attendance followed the tea party's request that campaign signs, shirts, etc. be left home. Three signs on display included a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, a criticism of Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and another proclaiming "Nancy Pelosi is shovel ready." Featured speakers were Tim Tingelstad, a Bemidji magistrate, and Moe. Tingelstad is a Bemidji magistrate who is running for the Minnesota Supreme Court seat now held by Associate Justice Alan Page. Steve Park of Nisswa, the endorsed Constitution Party candidate for Senate District 12, led prayers at the outset and conclusion of the meeting.
TIngelstad spoke against the effort for merit selection and retention elections for judges. He said the measure would take away the power of the people to elect judges.
"We need to wake up," Tingelstad. "The rule of law is at stake."
David Pundt, a Republican House District 12A candidate in 2008 and a Crosby-Ironton School Board candidate this year, said the people had already lost the ability to vote on bonds to fund teacher retirement benefits.
"We are small but we are mighty in voice," he told the crowd. "I hear more people talking about lowering taxes."
Moe, a disabled Vietnam veteran who heads the Tenth Amendment Center, said this nation's founders feared a government with too much power. He discussed the Tenth Amendment as the cornerstone of the Constitution."
The Tenth Amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
He said neither health care nor education were listed as powers of the federal government and discussed how state Legislatures could declare such laws null and void.
"We just don't want to be obeying stupid, unconstitutional laws," Moe said.
Park said the basis of his beliefs were biblical, that the United States was based on Judeo-Christian tradition and that a 180-degree change was needed by the government.
"I really believe we need radical change," he said.
Tom Schmid, a Brainerd native who is an attorney-turned actor and is now living in California, predicted that good things would be happening on the national political scene in 2010.
"The government has gotten too big," he said. "The cancer has gone deep."
Justin Granholm of Brainerd noted the smaller crowd at Tuesday's gathering and compared to the initial large crowd at the first area tea part event at Kiwanis Park.
"It's hard to keep people motivated," he said.
He referred to Kern's earlier criticism of Obama's speech to students and said there were messages in films such as "Bambi" designed to make children afraid to hurt trees and animals.
"We're losing touch because we've got undercover agendas going," Granholm said.
Stephen Heinecke of Baxter said we can't give up on this country even though we live in a time of uncertainty and fear.
MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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