"Fake" Tea Party On Ballot

By: John Lund Email
By: John Lund Email

With the July 14 filing of close to 60,000 signatures, the Tea Party is set to appear on ballots across Michigan this fall.

But no so fast, say members of the Michigan Tea Party Alliance. They claim that those signatures were probably gathered under false pretenses.

Jim Lefler, a member of the Southwest Michigan Tea Party Patriots, one of dozens of groups under the Michigan Tea Party Alliance said "we're concerned that a number of the signatures were collected unwittingly from people that were not properly explained what this tea party really was. We consider it to be a sham organization."

Members of the Michigan Tea Party Alliance rallied on the Capitol Building's steps before testifying at meeting of the Michigan Board of Canvassers. Their mission? Get rid of that party.

"We beleive that they are trying to syphon away votes from candidates that we would like to support," said Lefler.

Michael Hodge, the lawyer representing Mark Steffek, who filed the petition, said he is confident in the signatures.

"It will be determined that significant valid signatures appear on the petition to qualify the tea party to be on the ballot in November," Hodge told the board.

Tea party members and supporters are worried that if the new party stays on the ballot it will lead to mass confusion come November.

"Increases our workload in terms of educating the people of Michigan of just who this tea party really is," Lefler said.

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Bouchard stopped by the rally in support of the tea partiers.

"[Those who filed the petition] want confusion, they want people to think this is the legit Tea Party," Bouchard said. "The Tea Party is not trying to establish a party status. They are trying to move government. They are trying to retake control of the government for the people.

To certify the validity of the signatures, the Board of Canvassers ruled that a random sample of 64 percent of the people who signed the petition must be completed by Aug. 13.

Lefler said he is prepared to go to court should the signatures be deemed valid.

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