Deal allows wearing of tea party shirt at polling site - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Deal allows wearing of tea party shirt at polling site

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Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010 9:00 am | Updated: 8:21 pm, Mon Mar 14, 2011.

A Flagstaff woman will be able to wear her T-shirt proclaiming her Tea Party politics to the polls next month.

A deal announced this morning will settle the lawsuit between Diane Wickberg and Coconino County Recorder Candace Owens over of whether the shirt amounts to illegal electioneering. The shirt proclaims "Flagstaff Tea Party -- Reclaiming Our Constitution Now.''

The case had been scheduled for trial today in U.S. District Court here.

Le Templar, spokesman for the Goldwater Institute, which filed suit on Wickberg's behalf, said the deal involves not just Wickberg but anyone else who wears the same T-shirt.

But he said that it specifically covers only those going to the polls in Coconino County, as Owens was the only defendant in the lawsuit -- and the only one agreeing to the deal.

That could still leave the door open to similar lawsuits involving others elsewhere in the state.

State law prohibits "electioneering'' in and adjacent to polling places. The question here is whether the T-shirt fits that definition.

Less clear is what variations would be allowed in the message which would still keep the clothing legal for a polling place.

Attorney Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute argued the T-shirt did not fit that definition because there is no organized "Tea Party.'' Owens said it isn't that clear, as some candidates are running as being endorsed by the Tea Party.

Amy Bjelland, the state elections director has said that "every evaluation of a claim of electioneering must be fairly analyzed in the context of each election.'

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