By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—One of the state’s most celebrated conservative organizations believes it is under attack, not by the liberal left, or the Obama administration, or the IRS, but by certain Republicans.
According to a press release from the Wetumpka TEA Party (WTP), Representative Mike Ball (R-Huntsville) has publicly accused the group of being funded by former gaming king-pin Milton McGregor. In a statement by Becky Gerritson, president of WTP, she said,
“Reliable witnesses have revealed to me on Friday, September 20th, after a recent Madison County Republican Men’s Club meeting in Huntsville, that Representative Mike Ball publicly stated that ‘Milton McGregor was funding the Wetumpka TEA Party.’ This vicious accusation is completely false and absurd. As the founder and president, I would like to go on the record and state that the Wetumpka TEA Party has never taken money from gambling king, Milton McGregor.”
In her press statement Gerritson said,
“Over the past four years the Wetumpka TEA Party has grown to be an influential and effective conservative grassroots organization. A blog recently named WTP as one of the top five conservative organizations in the state, but in the same article, it was suggested that deep-pocketed interests have embedded themselves within our ranks, compromising our group’s integrity.”
The rankings were compiled by yellowhammernews.com, whose editor Cliff Sims made the accusation about, “deep-pocketed Montgomery special interest groups.”
Gerritson responds to Sims’ statement by writing, “These accusations are spurious and based on zero evidence. Our organization operates off of the donations from people who attend our meetings and others who support us with online donations. We are all volunteers; no one draws any type of income from the WTP.”
Calls to Sims cell phone were unanswered—on the several occasion that the Alabama Political Reporter has called Sims—our calls have gone straight to voice mail, were we are told that the voice mailbox is full.
The Alabama Political Reporter was able to reach Milton McGregor by phone at his office in Montgomery. McGregor said,
“I don’t know these folks, [with the Wetumpka TEA Party].” He said that he was not aware of the group and that he was not funding them in anyway. He did say, that he shared a great many of the TEA Party’s beliefs and stated, “I certainly stand with them in their desire for less government and lower taxes.”
McGregor said he has no idea why Rep. Ball would make such an outrageous statement.
Late, Monday, our email request from Rep. Ball was returned. In his note he wrote, “I have never speculated about the funding of the Wetumpka Tea Party. I don’t know where she [Gerritson] got her info.”
In her written statement Gerritson made it clear that her organization would, “Never knowingly take money from gambling or any other liberal interests groups.”
Just a few months ago, Gerritson was lauded as a hero of the conservative movement when she testified before the US Congress about the IRS allegedly targeting her organization for their conservative beliefs saying, “I’m a born-free American woman’—my government has forgotten its place.”
(Her full statement before the House Ways and Means Full Committee Hearing on Organizations Targeted by the Internal Revenue Service can be seeb here.)
Garritson and other TEA party members have recently come under fire from some factions of the Republican party because they dare speak their minds without regard to a particular party line. They have met with great resistance because of the campaign to stop Common Core from be implemented in the state’s public schools.
Common Core has been pushed with vigor by the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and the so-called “pro-business” republicans who have become the de-facto policy-wing of the GOP House Caucus.
This story in ongoing and will be updated when appropriate.