Regular readers of WMD know that I'm a huge fan of neither side in this fight, so I can be fairly objective about calling this particular match. The TEA Party has the best of intentions and wants to get our agenda moved forward. The ORP has the experience in politics and elections (which are NOT the same thing).
Tom Zawistowski (Tom Z. from here on...) ran for Chairman of the ORP because he thought that the party was the best way to advance our agenda. He learned a valuable lesson just days before the election...
I did not understand until I had the opportunity to talk to Matt Borges last Saturday and he told me privately, and then said publicly, that the Ohio Republican Party's role is to elect candidates and specifically to re-elect Governor Kasich. When I asked him about policy, he looked me in the eye and said "We don't do policy." When I specifically asked him about policies like the "Navigator" bill in the Senate, he repeated "We don't do policy." Even after I pointed out that if Navigators are allowed to register voters, with the presumption being that they would register mostly democratic voters, and that would devastate the Republican Party, he held firm.ORP's objective is to win elections and over the years the collective wisdom at ORP was to stay out of policy and let the elected officials handle those concerns. It makes sense from the point of view of keeping the party out of the line of fire when it comes to the hot button issues of the day. The problem with this strategy is that rank-and-file members and grassroots activists (but I repeat myself) don't want to see their agenda -- that they worked so hard for -- be tossed aside by thoughtless politicians. Those folks look to the ORP and see a level of indifference that is simply mind-boggling.
His words took me back to one of the first times that I met Bill Batchelder over three years ago. We were asking the "Party" to help us with something, perhaps it was Issue 3. Speaker Batchelder candidly said something like, "You don't understand, we raise money to win elections and after we win elections we stay out of the way until the next election where the cycle repeats itself." They were not involved with Policy. We did not get that. Even when current Chairman Bennett would say something like, "The Ohio Republican Party is a Party without Policies." We did not get that. It did not make sense to us.
Now the ORP is trying to raise money off the IRS scandal in which conservative groups (read TEA Parties and liberty groups) were targeted for more scrutiny than usual. Which from the ORP perspective it is their way of reaching out and magnifying the issue. From the TEA Party perspective, it is ORP reaching their hands out for cold hard cash with one hand while slapping these very groups in the face with the other.
In an email distributed to Republicans throughout Ohio, Matt Borges, the Chairman-Elect of the ORP, asks for recipients to "Help us hold them accountable and demand answers!" by donating money to the Ohio Republican "Party". Tom Zawistowski, Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party, said "After using TEA Party and social conservative groups to help elect Republicans who have failed to represent our conservative views and values, the ORP is now attempting to use the illegal targeting of TEA Party groups by the IRS to raise money for itself. They are doing so under the totally false claim that the ORP will in any way help our Liberty Groups fight the IRS. They can't and they won't. I find that totally classless. In fact the ORP itself has been fighting TEA Party and social conservative attempts to hold our own elected republicans from straying from their conservative campaign promises. They are not helping us, they are fighting us." Zawistowski is the recent past President of the statewide Ohio Liberty Coalition. His letter in February of 2012 stating that the OLC would not comply with the IRS demands, began the successful effort by TEA Party groups all over the nation to challenge the IRS which resulted in the apology that was issued yesterday.Donating to the ORP will have exactly ZERO impact on the issue at hand. What's worse is the ORP intelligentsia know that. That they do it anyway is the biggest insult of them all.
Zawistowski continued by saying "I find it reprehensible that the Ohio Republican "Party" would take advantage of this situation by claiming that they would help "hold them accountable" when in the Chairman's race, in which Mr. Borges was chosen over me, he made it perfectly clear that the ORP "Does not do Policy" and they are not in the business of holding anyone accountable for anything. Particularly if they are Republicans who want to grow government by Expanding Medicaid and who want to support gay-marriage. Anyone who gives money to the Ohio Republican "Party", which by it's own admission is not a political party at all but actually just a perpetual campaign organization, is wasting their money and will not help us fight the IRS. Donations should be made to the Ohio Liberty Coalition which is actually holding the IRS accountable for this illegal activity and defending Freedom of Speech for all Americans. Donations can be made to the OLC on its webpage at www.OhioLibertyCoalition.org."