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My usual policy regarding Gerald Largen’s columns is to ignore them as a waste of time and a danger to healthy brain cells, but when he attacks me or my Roane County Tea Party associates directly, as he did last Friday, I reluctantly wade into his ramblings.
The silver lining in this whole IRS debacle has been the fact that some people who had formerly put complete trust in the righteousness of an all-powerful central government have had their eyes opened to what happens in the real world when real people are given too much power over their fellow citizens.
It has been encouraging to see that some of those who initially dismissed our urgent warnings that we are headed for tyranny are now realizing that a government powerful and unaccountable enough to persecute its conservative “enemies” could target them as well, and is a threat to all Americans.
I was “disappointed, if not surprised” to see that Mr. Largen refuses to acknowledge this reality and has chosen instead to focus on the “hypocrisy” and “corruption” of the Tea Party that exists only in his fevered imagination. I was not involved in setting up Roane County Tea Party as a legal entity, but my understanding is that a group is either a profit-making enterprise or a non-profit. Since our purpose was/is to inform and educate the public, not to make a profit, our only option was to select non-profit status.
As a 501(c)4 organization, we use all of the contributions we receive to pay for our expenses — rental of meeting facilities, advertising, printing, gas money for guest speakers, etc.
When we participate in political discussions, we invite representatives of all sides to present their arguments in an effort to inform Roane County voters.
The closest we have come to endorsing a particular candidate has been our much-maligned “America or Obama, You Can’t Have Both” billboard, which simply pointed out the inevitable result of President Obama’s stated intention of “fundamentally transforming” America.
We thought it was important for voters to realize that a “fundamentally transformed” America is not going to resemble the America that we have known in the past.
Even in that case, we did not express an opinion about which option should be chosen.
As Mr. Largen blathered on about our shameful attempts to deprive the IRS of their legitimate tax revenues by deceitfully accepting tax deductible donations, I was reminded of the old saying about remaining silent and being thought a fool vs. speaking and removing all doubt.
Tax expert or not, the least he could have done was to make a simple phone call to a CPA before he bashed us in his column.
As the Roane County Tea Party vice treasurer, I can assure your readers that none of the funds donated to Roane County Tea Party have ever been treated as tax deductions by our donors.
I know this because donations to 501(c)4 organizations are not tax deductible as charitable donations, we keep no records of who puts which $20 bill in our donation jug, and no receipts are issued to donors.
Mr. Largen’s entire argument was based on a false premise that he could, and should, have checked out before his column was published.
The board of Roane County Tea Party looks forward to his prompt apology.