August 23, 2010 -- Lansing. The Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted today to deny the "Steffek Fake Tea Party Petition." This averts the state's Tea Parties from falling squarely into "petition purgatory" for the time being.
The "fake" Tea Party will not be on the ballot for 2010, but they may well give it another try in 2011 for 2012. The Board's ruling essentially stated that the fake petition effort did not "cross its i's and dot its t's" (pun intended) when it came to the signatory form design. It other words, the form "did not substantially adhere to state law."
The Board found that the petition effort had approximately 24% "invalid" signatures. Though this may seem high, the threshold to approve was an astonishing 36% "bad" signatures. Essentially, the petition could have had as many as one-in-three "bad" signatures before it would be denied. The petition actually had enough valid signatures to be approved -- pretty much as predicted. The ruling was based on certain technical specifications as outlined by State law.
Lawyers for both sides presented their arguments. Several Tea Party representatives spoke to a full room. Many good points were made. A favorite point made during the session:
The Board asked the fake Tea Party's lawyer how many calls (announcements) were sent out for their super secret nominating convention. Not wanting to answer, the legal counsel stated something to the effect of three or four. The really interesting point -- though the call went out to only a couple of people, the fake Tea Party nominated twenty-three (23) candidates for various state offices. Go figure!
This was close, the Board's vote was split, with the tie-breaker going to the Good Guys.
Let's be vigilant going forward. This will not be the last time the Tea Parties in Michigan and throughout the U.S. will be aggressively confronted. A lot is at stake.
RattleWithUs did a fine job in fighting back this threat and should be proud of its leadership role throughout the process.