You may recall a few weeks back when the Richmond, VA Tea Party, angered that the Occupy Richmond protestors did not have to pay fees or incur other costs for use of the same city park that the Tea Party members shelled out $8500 to use for their rally, sent an invoice to the city government demanding a refund.
Now, in retaliation, the city has informed the group that they are to be audited.
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.
His administration, however, found the time to send us an audit letter (provided in full below). No need for the city to audit the Occupiers, because, as the Mayor knows, all of their costs were provided by the taxpayers of Richmond(via Gateway Pundit). Here is the City Audit Letter Notification:
The Tea Party folk are 100% correct and any court in the land would agree with them. So, the city, through this bogus audit, is seeking to intimidate and perhaps, destroy the Tea Party organization in Richmond for daring to stand up to the powers that be.
In the audit letter signed by Cynthia Carr, Field Auditor for the City of Richmond, it states that our Tea Party is delinquent in filing of Admissions, Lodging, and Meals Taxes with the city and as such our group has been targeted for a comprehensive audit. Well, aren't we special? In fact, as part of the Business License we have with the City, a form is filled out by our treasurer every month (as required). We have never charged admission or had lodging or meals associated with our rallies. Every month the forms are appropriately filled with zeros. Ms. Carr goes on to say that if we don't respond within 15 days, the City will make a statutory assessment-meaning they'll pick an amount to charge us.
So the City and Mayor apparently feel that the Richmond Tea Party has not paid its fair share for use of Kanawha Plaza. We challenged the Mayor's unequal treatment between groups and he responded with even more unequal treatment.
I'm sure there are plenty of lawyers out there who will rush to their defense. And no doubt, the mayor will rue the day he compounded his problems by pulling a petty bureaucratic stunt instead of addressing the legitimate concerns of his constituents.