April 20, 2011; Source: Indianapolis Business Journal | On April 15th, the Indianapolis Tea Party held a “Tax Day Rally” at the Indiana Statehouse and got 30 parking meters at the site closed off to the public by a Police Department “emergency order.”  The fact that the nation’s official Tax Day this year was actually April 18th didn’t stop Tea Party organizations across the nation from celebrating three days early. 

No slouch on how to balance a budget, the Indianapolis Tea Party applied on April 24th for a retroactive waiver of the $450 it is supposed to pay for having had the parking meters closed off to the public during its event. 

The waiver of the payment to the city government is a privilege granted to charities holding approved special events, for example, the Indiana Blood Center, the FDIC firefighter training conference open house, the annual Iwo Jima memorial service, and the Big Ten Basketball Tournament.  According to a city spokesperson, the Tea Party’s request is the “first time in memory” for “a politically minded group characterized as a nonprofit has applied for a parking meter waiver.”  Even the labor unions that held a rather politically-minded rally at the Statehouse last month didn’t make this request. 

Interestingly, these other charities have applied for the parking meter waivers to create more space for their events.  In the Tax Day rally, the Tea Party applied for the waiver so that it could provide protected parking for some of its members.  The Tea Party’s actual application to the City’s Board of Public Works (PDF) signed by one Susan Martin describes the organization as a not-for-profit organization and attaches a State of Indiana certificate of incorporation recognizing the Indianapolis Tea Party as a “nonprofit domestic corporation.” 

You won’t find the Indianapolis Tea Party listed as a 501(c) charity in the IRS’s Publication 78 (updated as of January 14, 2011), but the organization is soliciting donations on its website which the unwary potential donor might think qualify for charitable deductions. 

Oddly, there are persistent indications of some Tea Party organizations seeking the government subsidy and largesse that the movement claims to eschew.  And there are continuing questions about whether some of the Tea Party organizations understand the meaning of “nonprofit” or whether they are simply uninterested in the definition.—Rick Cohen