CHIPLEY — The City Council was not happy with the LaRouche Political Action Committee’s visit to Chipley.
“People were knocking on my door before I was even up,” said Councilman Ellis Reed at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. “I told them, ‘I’m on the move!’”
Volunteers with the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee were in Chipley on Monday in front of the Post Office, calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama, the passage HR 129, and selling memberships to the PAC.
Part of their display included a sign reading “Impeach Obama” and a photo of the president wearing a Adolf Hitler mustache.
Frank Mathis, a LaRouche PAC representative from New Jersey, said they were touring the Panhandle. “This is where (U.S. Representatives) Jeff Miller and Steve Southerland are,” Mathis said. “In 2011, Miller said he would not support restoring the Glass-Steagall Act. We want to know what he thinks now.”
Mathis said the Glass-Steagall Act was enacted in the 30s and protected banks and bank customers, but it was overturned in 1999 by President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress.
The group’s platform supports reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which limited commercial banks’ investment activities. HR 129, if approved, will bring that back and protect Americans, Mathis said.
“That paved the way for the meltdown in 2007,” Mathis said.
“Lyndon LaRouche and LaRouche PAC are what stand between you and an otherwise inevitable collapse of civilization,” the PAC’s website states.
City Council members, City Adminstrator Dan Miner, and Police Chief Kevin Crews all received phone calls about the LaRouche volunteers, who were soliciting donations and selling memberships on the sidewalk in front of the Chipley Post Office.
“Every time we went down there, they started quoting federal laws and Supreme Court rulings,” Miner said. “If we make a decision, we want to make sure it is the right one.”
Miner said the LaRouche PAC had been travelling across the Panhandle, stopping in cities and seeking donations. “One day they were in Bonifay, and the next they were in Tallahassee,” Miner said. “You can bet they have done this enough to know all the loop holes in the law.”
“Our ordinances don’t really have the teeth in them to let us enforce them,” said Police Chief Crews. “Normally, when we arrest someone, we use the state statute, and we’re dealing with criminals.”
Miner said toward the end of the day, he and Crews had decided that arresting the LaRouche representatives was really the only way the city could respond, and that had the potential of opening the city up to a lawsuit.
“Ultimately, we made the decision we did to keep the city from being sued,” Crews said. “They were hiding behind federal laws to do what they were doing.”
“I contacted our attorney and asked her to look into it,” Miner said. City Attorney Michelle Taggart said she was researching the situation for the city.
“When she finds out what can be done, I think we should bring this ordinance back to the council and fix it,” said Councilman Kevin Russell.
Councilman Reed said he saw one person write a check to the LaRouche people for $200. He asked for a copy of the membership form that Mathis was having donors complete, but was refused a copy.
“I was there for about two hours, and every time they got a donor, he would fold that form up and put it in his hip pocket, then he would put the check in his front pocket,” Reed said. “Then they would laugh about it.”
“I just want the people of Chipley to know that this council does not support anyone degrading the President of the United States,” said Mayor Linda Cain.
“I think it’s time the council looks at the laws of the city,” Council Member Karen Rustin said. “If we’re going to write ordinances, we need to have the teeth in them to back them up.”
“When we get something from the attorney, we can look at that ordinance and go from there,” Councilman Lee Dell Kennedy said.
“We’ll be ready if they come back,” the mayor said.