Reader “Pulled Up in OG” sends along this link to Greenwich Democrat Town Chairman Fudruckee gently chastising the local PTA for attempting to ban politicians from showing up (as politicians) at the school’s annual pumpkin parade. He may be no more accurate than a stopped clock, but the Fudruckee can occasionally get it right and I believe he is this time. Besides, ya gotta love a politician taking on the PTA, an improbably powerful clique in this town.
Organizers of Saturday’s Pumpkin Patch event at Old Greenwich School have a message for local candidates who plan on attending: Bring the family, fine, but no politicking by the giant hay maze.
“We would … like to use this opportunity to remind the RTC, DTC and all political candidates that campaigning at Pumpkin Patch is not allowed,” Jill Vollmer, a former Old Greenwich PTA president, wrote in an email to party chairmen Thursday.
The patch, which promises a haunted house and other Halloween fun, is a PTA event, she explained, and as the PTA is a non-profit organization rules prevent it from taking part in political campaigning.
“Anyone doing this at the Pumpkin Patch will kindly be asked to stop and remove any materials,” she wrote.
The message didn’t sit well with at least one party boss, who not only took exception to her interpretation of IRS rules governing non-profits, but suggested the directive chaffed against the very values people run for office to uphold.
“The tax exempt regulations do not prohibit political activity, but rather advocacy and expense on behalf of a specific candidate. By your logic, the tax exempt status of the league of women voters should result in their demise,” Democratic Town Committee Chairman Frank Farricker responded in an email of his own. “Bottom line is that our candidates have both first amendment rights as American citizens, and access rights as taxpayers paying for the upkeep and maintenance of old Greenwich school. The pumpkin patch event is made possible by the donation of space by the taxpayers, and you are looking to restrict both the rights of our candidates to speak and members of the community to learn. What exactly does this teach our children.”
Farricker later provided IRS rules that support his position, which elicited a response from Greenwich PTA Council President Lisa Harkness: “Our instructions about campaigning at PTA events were very clear. We sought these instructions from our governing body, the CT PTSA.”
The Connecticut PTA does not have the power to overrule the First Amendment, and can’t restrict the exercise of free speech on public property – the Fud’s right, and his troops are standing behind him. (As a special treat, and a journalistic first, FWIW has obtained a secret video of the Democrat’s slate of BOE candidates, led by BOE member Ramadamadingdong Tamm, gathering for today’s meeting of the gourds:)