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Tea Party Protests John Edwards’ Vote Against “Transparency”

Caleb Coulter can be heard above the traffic as he espouses the Tea Party position outside the SunTrust Building.

by Cheryl Hodges

Billing their gathering “a good, old fashioned Tea Party protest,” the small group that showed up this past Tuesday at noon wanted to get the message out that there are “politicians who vote for bills they haven’t read … [and] we have one right here in Roanoke – our very own State Senator John Edwards.” To help make their point, the protest was held outside of Edwards’ downtown office at Sun Trust Plaza at the corner of Franklin and Jefferson streets.

In an email the Tea Party explained that “Senator Edwards voted for last year’s state budget without reading the bill. The way the process worked last year, the Senators on the Budget committee had 45 minutes to review the telephone book sized budget and cast a vote. Senator Edwards still voted for the bill.”

From the Tea Party’s point of view, Edwards and others then added insult to injury when they voted against a proposal (SB867) that would have required that the state budget be posted online for 72 hours prior to a vote.  SB 867 has been killed in the full committee now, and Edwards voted against it again there. “This is unacceptable to the Roanoke Tea Party.”

Roanoker Caleb Coulter tried to speak to pedestrians as they curiously glanced his way. He said that “we want Edwards to know that we know what’s going on. On both sides of the aisle, who doesn’t think we should see a little transparency on the budget bill?” He pointed out that Ralph Smith said that last year he had about 34 minutes to read the budget before a vote.

The small group of protestors, which numbered around a dozen, held up homemade signs and called out to passing cars. Though relatively few in number, there was no mistaking the Tea Party’s resolve in getting the message across to Edwards–who happened to be out of the office. A group of protesters visited Edwards’ office during the protest and were told by Sen. Edwards’ secretary that SB 867 “sounded reasonable” to her.

The Roanoke Tea Party, along with other groups in the area, has begun vetting candidates for both the Democrat and Republican primary in an effort to find a suitable “Constitution-minded replacement for Edwards.” RTP Board member Gregory Aldridge indicated that a commitment from the highest offices in Richmond had been made to them to help in their effort to unseat Sen. Edwards this fall. “Evidently, voters in SW Virginia aren’t the only Virginians wishing to replace him in the state senate,” stated Aldridge.

Gordon Potter, who participated in the protest, said “I’m retired from the Air Force. I fought for our country for 23 years; I retired, and I’m still fighting.”

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