The Tea Party: Who Let The Dems and Libs In?


It is a fair question to ask who has let the Democrats and Liberals in to the NJ Tea Party?  Recently, an e-mail was sent out by Mark Falzon.  As we all know, Falzon is a Democrat, a perennially losing Democrat candidate, and the face of the “Dick LaRossa wing” of the New Jersey tea party folks.

In his e-mail, Falzon wrote:

“Because I have been threatened with lawsuits I won’t mention any other names but just sit back and think who Eichmann has been consorting with and/or has spoken positively about on the CNJ blog in both his articles and comments  My point?  Factions within our own NJ Tea Party Movement  I suspect are working behind the scenes with Rob Eichmann and Bill Winkler.  Our beloved Movement actually has activists working with the GOP against you, me and all the citizens of New Jersey.”

Falzon ends his e-mail with an attack on the Conservative Leadership Caucus.  The CLC is a legislative caucus that has invited conservative activists - including tea party leaders - to meet at the State House in Trenton, to set a legislative agenda for the next six months.  Important issues like blocking the effort by liberal Democrats to reinstate the RGGI Cap & Trade energy tax, legislation blocking the implementation of ObamaCare in New Jersey, legislation to restrict the State Supreme Court’s role in setting the education funding formula, passing judicial retention, and passing E-verify to fight illegal immigration will be discussed and plans made to ensure the success of these efforts.

Being a Democrat, Mark Falzon doesn’t like the idea of the CLC.  He wrote:

“May I please suggest you ignore their call to Trenton as it is just another influence peddling exhibition covered with the veneer of unity.  If you do decide to go, please give them hell.”

You could ask why Falzon is so adamantly opposed to conservative unity.  But as I said, he’s a Democrat, and his “wing” is dominated by a liberal - former State Senator Dick LaRossa.

Attached to Falzon’s e-mail was an article he recently wrote for a website run by RoseAnn Salanitri, a third-party candidate for Assembly.  Salanitri runs the website with Terry Hurlbut, who reported earlier this year that Salanitri and LaRossa were the organizers of the “Battle for Trenton” convention event held in Mercer County.

It is noteworthy that public employee unions have now embraced the “Battle for Trenton” slogan, as well as Gadsden flags, in their marches in opposition to conservative reforms.

In the article he published on Salanitri’s website, Mark Falzon wrote:

“When sitting NJ legislators were politely and quietly approached for assistance in muzzling the initiators of this nasty campaign, they refused.”

This is a reference to RoseAnn Salanitri’s own approach to a legislative office, in which she threatened a third-party candidacy unless the office “fired” a vendor.  This incident has been characterized as a “blackmail” attempt.

Salanitri shared a radio program with Dick LaRossa.  On it, she called LaRossa her “better half” and lauded the former legislator.  On one recent show, Salanitri complained that legislators proposed too many laws.  LaRossa quickly agreed, forgetting his own penchant for proposing legislation like the naming of a highway for comedian Ernie Kovacs.

Discussing the recent State Supreme Court decision ordering more funding for education, LaRossa told the radio audience that the Legislature should take responsibility for education funding from the Court.  But back in 1996, LaRossa said that he had “little hope the issue will ever be solved by the legislature.”  LaRossa told the Trenton Times (11/04/96):

“There is some thought that, well, if we can’t agree, let’s let it ride and let the courts come up with an answer.”

Strangely enough, Salanitri has posted an article on her website, written by her, that attacked conservative Republican legislators for proposing legislation to repeal New Jersey’s cap & trade RGGI energy tax.  She has also posted against school choice legislation.  In her rant against those fighting to repeal RGGI, Salanitri sounds particularly snarky:

“A host of conservative legislators and political activists across NJ have joined the fight against RGGI. They have raised a battle cry, and proudly strutted their stuff before their constituents. They have painted themselves as modern-day heroes, valiantly fighting against intrusive government. Oh my - how grand they all appear in front of the camera, these servants of the people, working to restore sanity to government. It would be grand if they weren’t part of the insanity.”

Then she reveals why:

“This writer has decided to throw her hat in the ring and run for the Assembly in NJ (on the Constitution Party line and not the Republican Party line!). I hope I can encourage others to do the same. “

For some reason, still unknown,  RoseAnn Salanitri wasn’t able to secure the Constitution Party line, and is now running as just another independent.  Of course, Salanitri’s move jives exactly with what conservative columnist Paul Mulshine reported in the Star-Ledger (04/14/11) about LaRossa:

“When I got LaRossa on the phone, he defended the timing of the convention. He pointed out that independent candidates can file right up until primary day.

‘I don’t think there’s going to be any absence of candidates,’ he said. ‘We have any number of people who will be running as independents.’

The presence of those candidates on the ballot should ’send a message’ to the Republican leaders, he said.”

Like Mark Falzon, RoseAnn Salanitri has been working to split the conservative movement since first arriving on the scene with the tea party, a couple years ago.  Her friend Terry Hurlbut wrote about it in the Examiner last year (04/13/10):

New Jersey has two Tea Party groups, each contending for the honor of coordinating all other Tea Party groups. Which group is legitimate depends on whom one asks, how many are willing to coordinate with each, and what sort of leadership model any given Tea Party activist prefers.

The better-recognized group is NJ Tea Parties United. Most groups refer to this page from their own home pages, though some of its listed member groups, like the Essex and Hudson County groups, exist as Facebook or Google groups. The self-hosting groups include the original New Jersey Tea Party Coalition, which is actually the local group for Bergen County, and the Morristown and Sussex County Tea Party groups. The organization, such as it is, of NJ Tea Parties United and its affiliates is not that of a corporation with a top-down organization, but rather of a loose alliance of like-minded groups. Each group handles its own event planning, and coordination is limited largely to the exchange of news. Students of history will probably recognize this kind of alliance as similar to the original Articles of Confederation under which the United States first governed itself (or, to be more historically accurate, themselves) before the ratification of the present United States Constitution.

In contrast to this is the group calling itself “New Jersey Tea Party,” which its site describes as a project of an entity called “Morristown Tea Party Organization.” The head of that latter organization is 60-year-old Jeffrey N. Weingarten, who might or might not be a former Republican Party operative. (The site has a reference to a broken link to an article, that allegedly ran in The Miami Herald, describing someone named Jeff Weingarten in those terms. Independent corroboration is not yet available.)

The lists of local Tea Party groups on the two sites have six organizational links in common. Each site also has a link to something called “Morristown Tea Party”–the same name, but different links. Weingarten’s Morristown Tea Party Organization link is simply another page on his site, which is far less elaborate than the site of the independent Morristown Tea Party.

The Sussex County Tea Party has denounced Weingarten publicly. Their home page contains this statement:

It has come to our attention that the NJ Tea Party, organized by Jeff Weingarten, has included the Sussex County Tea Party and our website as a link on his website, implying that somehow we are associated. For the record, we want to make it very clear that we are not associated with Jeff Weingarten or any of his organizations. Any implication that we are associated with him, in any way, is untrue and misleading.

RoseAnn Salanitri, the head of the Sussex County organization, called this Examiner yesterday to denounce Weingarten’s representation of himself in the Sunday Star-Ledger (Newark) as “the leader of New Jersey’s Tea Parties” as “blatantly inaccurate.”

It is clear that the “Dick LaRossa wing” of the tea party is working to split the conservative vote this November in order to make a Republican legislative majority impossible.  In this, they are following the method employed by the Left in New York’s 26th congressional district, where a “tea party” candidate split the conservative vote to elect a leftist member of Congress in conservative Jack Kemp’s old seat.

It is long past time to entertain serious discussion with any of these people.

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