A follow-up post to this article can be found here.
I am aware of concerns and confusion about an apparent alignment of Grassroots in Nebraska with the Republican Party and AFP (Americans for Prosperity) to organize a Tea Party event on April 15. Please be assured that Grassroots in Nebraska will stay committed to being a truly grassroots group of Nebraska citizens committed to a return to a Constitutional, limited government. When we organize a Tea Party, we will abide by the no political party, no politician policy we've had since the beginning.
It has always been a point of principle that there will no affiliation of Grassroots in Nebraska as a group with a political party, and of course, no endorsement of a political party organizing a tea party. Further, there is agreement by the core, most active members of this group that it is impossible to align with AFP based on nearly a year's worth of both dealing directly with and observing the conduct of that organization locally. For anyone who is not aware of the reasoning behind this position, we will be providing additional details in the next few days via email and website posts.
The Republican Party of Lancaster County, AFP Nebraska, and a handful of individuals are attempting to hijack and crush our event and group. There can be NO other interpretation.
The unfortunate facts are -
- Grassroots in Nebraska has had a permit for use of the North Steps of the Capitol from the Capitol Commission since March 11, dated March 10, for an April 15 5:30pm setup, 6:30 - 8:30pm event. Click HERE to view the permit in more detail. (Note that my personal address has been blacked out for obvious security reasons, the direct line to the Tourism Director blacked out as there is a general number available elsewhere on the form)
- Kurt Hammond and Brad Stevens, both of AFP had requested use of the Capitol North Steps for Noon - 1pm April 15 then attempted to schedule for the evening, but were denied permission because Grassroots in Nebraska already had the permit.
- Even before there was clarity regarding the Commission's decision, Brad Stevens of AFP and others began distributing information about convening their event at the Capitol at 5:30pm on the north steps. Click HERE to view larger version - you may have to use zoom.
- The Capitol Commission notified Kurt Hammond on March 9 that their request to use Capitol property during any other time than Noon - 1pm had been denied, AFP, the Lancaster County Republican Party, and others continued to distribute information that their event was being held at the north steps of the Capitol at 5:30pm
- Despite the fact that the Capitol Commission has told Kurt Hammond to stop falsely advertising the location of the event to the public, false advertisements of the event continue to this day
One might wonder why this effort is being undertaken - why advertise our event for us if we have a rightful permit to use the location and they do not?
Because, according to the Capitol Commission and direct report from one of the planners, the GOP and AFP will be holding their event across the street from the Capitol on the Centennial Mall. They seem convinced they can capture the crowd prior to or on top of our event and then lure them away from the area completely by offering free food, free drinks, and a movie.
I hope they have a lower opinion of the average Tea Party goer than is reality.
In addition to the blatantly false advertising, blatant ignoring of admonishments and instructions by a a state agency, and blatantly offering freebies and lures, a number of tactics - besides the ones that are already obvious - have been attempted to get Grassroots in Nebraska to give up or share the steps with the GOP and AFP.
- Brad Stevens of AFP tried to extract information from Linda in our group in late February about our plans. He said he didn't have my phone number, but curiously it's really easy to find. Besides the fact that Brad had called me a couple of times before and a number of his employees have my phone number, it is also listed in the phone book. I'm the only Shelli Dawdy in Lincoln, NE.
- The Chairman of the Lancaster County Republican Party called on two separate occasions to get information from me. He never offered a cooperative effort (not that it would have been accepted) - his directly stated goal was to convene his event directly after mine so as to "piggyback off" of us. He dismissed my advice that people would not like it if the GOP were to have a tea party by saying, "That won't be problem - we're not going to tell people it is being organized by the GOP and AFP."
- A former member of our group who joined forces with the GOP and AFP contacted two other members of this group "offering a joint tea party". She said she "couldn't seem to get Shelli". But I have caller id and her number had registered just fine in the past. I haven't received a phone call from this woman in several months at least. When questioned directly about which groups she was representing with her offer, she said her own and "others". Given the opportunity to be forthcoming, she failed to do so.
- A fellow calling himself a Libertarian but somewhat a Republican called on March 30 to "extend his hand". He said it was his idea to bring together all of the groups, that he was planning the event. He said the event was tied to the Capitol now and it could be done one of two ways; they would keep advertising as the Capitol Steps either way. One way it could be done is if after their speakers were through, people could stay and listen to the great message from Shelli Dawdy of Grassroots in Nebraska or they could go have food and drink and watch the movie. He didn't give the other option. He pressed multiple times - would I cooperate?
The last phone call I received was probably the most egregious contact of the lot. It just so happens a member of Grassroots in Nebraska was talking to me on Skype when I answered the call. Realizing the nature of the call, I put it on speaker so he heard the whole conversation. This is his assessment of the call:
"He wanted to rally on the steps during the allotted setup time, which would actually break the rules constructed by the Capitol Commission. He was a professional salesman (insurance business) refusing to take no as an answer and tried to intimidate you with an onslaught of false logic."
Apparently, the idea of keeping the event completely detached from the GOP and AFP has been abandoned to some extent. There are invitations via email going out from AFP and a Facebook event from the GOP.
The few people who are aware of what has gone on, are completely disgusted with all involved in this hijack attempt. One of them sent the following email to Brad Stevens:
"You sir are a cad, and your organization is a shill for the Republican party. You have obtained my email address from another group with whom I am involved. They have permission to use my contact information, you do not. Do you have a permit for this event you are promoting at the Capitol? Please remove my address from your mailing list, and all of my personal information from your files immediately. I will be contacting Senator Fulton forthwith to make him aware of the character and tactics of the group with whom he has affiliated himself, assuming he is even aware that you are using his name in your unauthorized solicitations. And you need an editor with an understanding of English usage. The proper phrase is constitutional principles, not 'constitutional principals.'"
The bottom line? This is has become David vs Goliath. There is a lot of power, influence, and money involved. And it apparently has decided it needs to smash us with its fist. If the WHY of that is not obvious , stay tuned. Linda has agreed to assist me in providing the background information over a period of a few days and we will release that information via email and website posting.
Right now, though, there are more immediate concerns:
My question - what shall we do about it? I need to know which choice people who regularly hear from us are going to make. Will you opt for the establishment Republican Party and a Washington, D.C. big-money group dangling "big name speakers" and free food and drink? *OR *Will you recognize what is happening here and push back against this effort to stomp out our group? The core active membership of this group understand it is the establishment - including both parties - and the groups whose primary function is to keep the establishment in power that are the problem. If you choose not to support GIN now, you're really electing to maintain the status quo. The Republican Party has no need to accommodate our ideas if we can be assimilated into the existing party structure. Why buy the cow if the milk is free? -- or, in this case, bought very cheaply -- for the price of some lip service paid to our agenda by party politicians, some munchies, a few drinks, and a movie.
I and the people who usually pull the oars in this group cannot fight this fight alone. If we do not receive immediate support and commitments to help, we will decide to devote our time elsewhere.
All of the game playing in this has now put us behind. Because of the level of influence we are talking about, we have been halted several times in pursuing the arrangements for this event while making sure that some strings have not been pulled that may have resulted in the loss of the permit. I have now been assured by the Tourism Director that this will not happen.
If you are as outraged as those of us who have followed this hijack and wish to see a good turnout at our event, we need to know you are willing to back that up by helping.
As noted at the top of this message, we are turning our Monday meeting into an emergency meeting about the Tea Party. The number of people who show up, ready to help, will decide whether or not we go forward. If you are willing to commit your help, but absolutely have no way to make it to the meeting, please click HERE to send a message.
Information about Monday's meeting:
Monday, April 5
6300 A St., Lincoln
It would be EXTREMELY helpful if people would RSVP "YES" to this meeting if planning to attend. Frankly, it would be nice to see a show of some support at this point.