Clear56° WeatherClear56° Weather

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

You should have passed E-Verify, Panhandle tea party tells GOP

Henry Kelley, president of the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party, is sending a letter to the Republican Party of Florida blasting GOP leaders for likely not passing an immigration crackdown bill this year heavy on the federal government's E-Verify system.

The subject of Kelley's e-mailed letter to a reporter: "Thank you RPOF for re-electing President Obama."

Dear Florida Republican Leadership

I cannot express my incredible disappointment at your failure to pass a reasonable E-Verify bill in this Session.  Let's first review the facts - this was a forward looking, reasonable implementation of a system that already works for several hundred thousand businesses. 

During the last two years - the tea party has repeatedly expressed concerns over fiscal sanity and illegal immigration.  Now, the key word here is "ILLEGAL".  We recognize most of us are descended from immigrants, and I have not seen tea party leaders advocating for halting legal immigration.  

You see, it's the "ILLEGAL" part that we wanted addressed.  This bill would have implemented this program.  It didn't call for a "round 'em up and throw 'em out strategy".  No, it was a straightforward approach, but you felt that the interests of Big Farms, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Disney were more important than our concerns.  

Even better - you told us you didn't "hear" from us in the last few days.  First, why the hell does anyone have to tell you what the right thing to do is?  And secondly, did you miss the elections last fall?  Did you miss how we showed up enmasse in November when the new Legislature was sworn in?   Did you miss us the first week of Session? 

But let's talk about the election in 2012.  You blew it.  Oh, I know what the cynics say - "you won't vote for the Democrats anyhow."   True enough.   Take our votes for granted. 

But elections aren't won on election day.  Volunteers stuff envelopes months in advance.  Volunteers make phone calls from phone banks.  Volunteers write letters to the editors and tell their friends how to vote. 

Tea Party groups such as mine held rallies that the RPOF could never have dreamed of, and gave you priceless free exposure for your candidates.  

You just wrecked that trust that we provided you in a sweeping mandate last fall.  We will pray that Pres. Obama acts in his second term in accordance with our Constitution, because you just ripped the heart out of the very group that would drive Florida in the 2012 election cycle.  And Florida, so I've been told, is kind of important to the Presidential election cycle. 

I hope those donations are worth it, because how do you think I will handle it when I get calls to use my email list and rallies for Republican candidates?  If you can't pass this legislation, what makes us believe you have the courage and political will to take on harder issues? 

Henry Kelley
--PATRICIA MAZZEI AND MARY ELLEN KLAS

[Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2011 3:19pm]

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...