In April, the South Florida Tea Party scored a coup by landing Donald Trump to headline its Tax Day tea party rally. The get made national news, coming as it did in the midst of the media frenzy around a possible Trump presidential race. Everett Wilkinson, head of the tea party group, told the Daily Caller, “Our members are ecstatic” about Trump’s participation. They may not be quite so ecstatic now, though.
Fast forward a few months. Trump has dropped out of the race as a flash-in-the-pan candidate, and the South Party Tea Party is on the hook for $6,000 in unpaid bills owed to the city of Boca Raton for costs associated with the rally. The Sun Sentinel reports:
The Tea Party agreed to pay Bob’s Barricades for barricades to block off Sanborn Square, but failed to do so before the rally, Assistant City Manager Mike Woika said.
“The police still needed those barricades for the demonstration, so we had them put up,” he said.
The city last month sent the Tea Party invoices for $3,052 for the barricades and $3,093 for police services, but the group has not paid those bills, Woika said.
“We’ve received the invoices and we’re working on paying them,” South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson said.
Boca Raton will pay the $6,145 out of the city budget if the Tea Party doesn’t come through, and the city probably won’t pursue legal action to recoup a loss, Woika said. However,” he said, “should they want to have another rally here, that would certainly be something we would look negatively upon, if they don’t pay the invoice.”
The debt problem is not likely to endear Wilkinson to tea partiers in Florida, many of whom already distrust him because of some of his earlier publicity stunts. In February, Wilkinson was circulating emails to tea party activists suggesting that Sarah Palin would be speaking at a Tea Party Patriots policy summit in Phoenix and announcing her presidential candidacy there. Palin was never going to attend the summit, and some tea partiers believed Wilkinson was simply sending out the Palin-rumor emails to drive traffic to his own website, Tea Party Wire.
Still, it’s hard not to chuckle a little about a tea party group going in to debt to provide a platform for billionaire Trump. After all, they’ve been screaming loudly for two years that the federal government should behave like, well, tea partiers, who of course never, ever mismanage their household finances and go into debt they can’t pay back.