A bill to introduce specialty Tea Party license plates in Arizona — the sales of which would be used to fund Tea Party causes — is now on its way to Governor Jan Brewer (R) for approval after being passed through the State Legislature Monday evening.
But if Brewer signs the bill, Arizona may risk losing 15 percent of its federal highway funding, if Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) gets his way.
The New York congressman isn’t happy about “an unabashed Tea Party political pay-off,” and on Wednesday, announced that he will introduce the “License Plate Political Slush Fund Prevention Act.” Under his legislation, governors would have to certify that license plate fees aren’t directed toward political organizations — or risk losing 15 percent of the state’s federal highway funding.
In a fiery statement on his website, Ackerman outlined his issue with the Arizona plate.
Unlike the vanity Tea Party license plates of other states, the Arizona plates would serve as a conduit to direct $17 of the annual $25 fee to Tea Party groups. There is of course no proposal for a comparable license plate to fund progressive groups. (For the record, I would not support such a use of government resources for groups on either side of the political spectrum.)
It’s an unabashed Tea Party political pay-off. “Thanks for campaigning for us, here’s a wad of cash collected by the government… just for you.”
The plates depict the Gadsden Flag’s iconic image, a coiled snake on a yellow background, complete with the “Don’t Tread On Me” tag line. Similar specialty plates have been proposed in Virginia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Missouri.
Brewer has not yet indicated if she will sign the license plate bill. However, she recently signed legislation that guarantees the Gadsen Flag the same protection as the American flag.