Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Virginia Fifth District Race - #2051 - Tom Perriello Lifts Sign Ban After Challenged by The Rutherford Institute - USA Today

U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello is lifting a ban on signs at his town hall forums across his district in this re-election year after being challenged on it by a conservative civil liberties group.  Michael Kelly, a spokesman for Perriello's congressional office, said the prohibition was lifted after a civil liberties group warned Perriello that it violated free speech rights. The ban was put in place earlier this month after supporters brought Perriello yard signs into a town hall constituent gathering held as official congressional business, not a campaign event. Perriello advisers felt the signs obstructed the view and distracted people attending the question-and-answer sessions.  The first-term Democrat is holding 20 such meetings across his sprawling, rural district, just as he did a year ago, but hoped to defuse the angry, raucous tone of the 2009 events.

The Rutherford Institute sent Perriello a letter telling him that his desire to impose a civil tone to the forums does not trump the right to free expression.  John Whitehead, president of the group, called the ban "an act of censorship that cannot be reasoned away on the pretext that it is intended to encourage freedom of speech and to discourage partisan politics."  The institute wrote to Perriello after Steven Peters, a Republican tea party follower and conservative activist, was stopped from taking signs into two Perriello town halls meetings.

The signs featured a photo of an unshaven, scowling Perriello and a quote Peters attributes to Perriello: "If you don't tie our hands, we will keep stealing."

Kelly said Perriello will continue discouraging signs in his forums, but won't keep people from bringing them in.  "If folks are more comfortable that way, we're not going to stop them. If they're being disruptive, we're going to ask them to be respectful and considerate," Kelly said.  Perriello won his seat over Republican Rep. Virgil Goode in 2008 by 727 votes in a Democratic sweep of Virginia led by President Barack Obama, the first Democrat to carry the state in a presidential race since 1964.

Robert Hurt, a Republican state senator from Chatham, and Jeff Clark, a conservative independent with tea party backing, are challenging Perriello's bid for a second term.
Tom Perriello's new saying should be; "If you don't Challenge us Legally, We will steal your Freedom of Speech." What about people who don't know about The Rutherford Institute or can obtain legal help in situations like this. If we allow them, the politicians in Washington, D.C. will try to steal every right they can.  We must have the courage to stand up and say NO, you can't do that.  Thank you Steve Peters for being the one to challenge this ridiculous attempt to take away another freedom.

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