Local Tea Party group accuses school district of 'intimidation'
The group known as the Rochester Tea Party Patriots says it "will not back down" to a request made by the public school district to stop using look-alike flyers about the upcoming referendum.
Earlier this month, lawyers for Rochester Public Schools delivered a cease-and-desist letter to the group regarding its use of the flyers, which are nearly identical in style to ones designed by the district. The Post-Bulletin first reported the story on Thursday.
The district's attorneys claim the Tea Party group's flyer, which encourages residents to vote "no" on November's referendum, infringes on its intellectual property. The district also alleges at least two of the facts on the flyer are inaccurate.
Under Minnesota statute 211B.06, "a person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who intentionally participates in the preparation, dissemination, or broadcast of paid political advertising or campaign material ... that is designed or tends to elect, injure, promote, or defeat ... a ballot question, that is false, and that the person knows is false or communicates to others with reckless disregard of whether it is false."
The Tea Party Patriots issued a statement on its website saying in part:
"We have the facts and proof for all the information we have put out and will not be intimidated by any government or non-government body trying to silence citizens."
The statement also encourages followers to distribute the flyer by printing it off and emailing it to friends, neighbors and coworkers.
A spokesperson for the school district was unavailable on Friday. We'll have more on this story as it develops.
(Cover graphic: RPS)