By Tom Tillison
Orlando Political Press
The Dennis Ross campaign has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the Florida TEA Party political party over an electronic billboard ad on I-4.
The rotating ads highlight two TEA candidates running for U.S. Congress, with the Florida TEA Party logo prominently displayed along with a disclaimer that reads, “Political Advertisement paid for and approved by the Tea Party.”
The complaint states;
The purpose of this letter is to alert the Commission to a violation of federal election law taking place in central Florida. In short, I believe a state political party, with no corresponding federal committee, federal account, or federal fundraising, is engaging in “Federal Election Activity” by paying (or receiving in-kind) electronic billboard space near Orlando specifically advocating the election of a federal candidate and indicating, by the disclaimer, that the ads were paid for by the state political party.
Seeing as the Florida Tea Party is registered by the same Fred O’Neal that registered and dissolved the TEA Party as a federal committee, and the TEA Party has stated that they have had no federal activity since their creation, and these billboards are paid for by a state political party known as the Florida “TEA” Party, and they advocate for the election of a specific federal candidate, I feel that multiple rule violations are present as well as illegal contributions to federal candidates using state and perhaps corporate money.
At issue here is that the TEA Party filed as a state and federal committee, however, withdrew it’s federal application. After speaking with a local attorney, it was explained that there are vast differences between state and federal rules and regulations. If a political party is only registered at the state level, it cannot engage in federal election activity. Advertising for a congressional candidate falls under this catagory.
Former state representative Dennis Ross is running for Congress in Florida district 12, which also has a TEA candidate on the ballot.
The Florida TEA Party is no stranger to controversy. The tea party movement has soundly rejected this new third party and does not endorse its efforts, claiming that the political party is engaging in identity theft. There is also a strong belief that the intent of the Florida TEA Party is to split the conservative vote, aiding the Democrats in the process.
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