Debater Claims Florida Tea Party Meeting Biased Venue for Solar Debate

Published July 1, 2015

Debbie Dooley, leader of the self-proclaimed Green Tea Party, accused Florida Tea Party members of being biased after Tea Party members unanimously rejected her proposed solar power monopoly for the state. 

The Atlanta, Georgia-based Dooley is pushing an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would create a special market for on-site electricity sales and give the solar power industry a government-protected monopoly on those sales. Dooley claims the proposed amendment advances free markets and thus should be supported by Florida Tea Party members. 

After Heartland Institute vice president for external relations James Taylor began raising concerns about such a new solar power monopoly, Dooley sent Taylor an email claiming she would debate Taylor anytime, anywhere. Taylor promptly accepted and proposed debating Dooley in Atlanta in front of her small Green Tea Party group. Dooley refused to debate Taylor in front of her own supporters, saying she would debate Taylor in his home state of Florida, instead. The Villages Tea Party then set up a debate between Dooley and Taylor at The Villages Tea Party’s June 15 weekly meeting. 

Just a few days before the scheduled debate, Dooley flew out to California and posed for paparazzi photos with Van Jones, who resigned from the Obama administration after reports surfaced that he had professed to be a Marxist and described America as a land of “eco-apartheid.” Dooley and Jones were in California together to promote a solar power movie the two appeared in. Despite her trip to California with Jones, Dooley called The Villages Tea Party leaders and claimed health issues prevented her from debating Taylor in Florida. Dooley designated her colleague Alexander Snitker to debate Taylor in her place. Snitker, a former politician who joined the debate representing the Florida Libertarian Party, has worked with Dooley to promote the proposed solar power amendment to the Florida Constitution. 

At the conclusion of the June 15 debate, The Villages Tea Party president Aileen Milton asked for a vote on whether the audience supported or opposed Dooley’s proposed constitutional amendment. The vote was 70-1 against the amendment, with the lone supporter being an attendee who is not a member of the Tea Party. 

After the debate, Dooley lashed out at The Villages Tea Party in an email she sent from Atlanta to a Florida reporter for SaintPetersBlog (June 24). 

“I knew members of The Villages Tea Party were strongly anti-solar and close to Mr. Taylor,” Dooley charged. 

“I would be happy to debate Mr. Taylor in Florida at another date at a neutral site open to the public,” Dooley added. 

Seeking Neutral Debate Forum

Taylor responded by wondering if Dooley will ever identify a Florida Tea Party audience with whom she would feel comfortable. 

“It is funny how Ms. Dooley never voiced any concerns or objections about the objectivity of The Villages Tea Party members before the Tea Party members unanimously rejected her proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution,” said Taylor. “Now – only after her stinging defeat – she suddenly claims The Villages Tea Party was not a fair venue for her to claim her desired solar power monopoly is a good free-market idea for the Florida Constitution.” 

“Will there ever be a Florida Tea Party group Ms. Dooley will be not object to?” Taylor asked. “She claims The Villages Tea Party members are anti-solar. Well, here’s a news flash: Tea Party members everywhere are frustrated with paying higher taxes to finance disproportionate subsidies to bankroll the purveyors of the most expensive electricity source in the state.

Adding insult to injury, Ms. Dooley and the solar power industry go into state after state lobbying for government laws forcing people to purchase ever-increasing percentages of their electricity from this expensive solar power source,” said Taylor. “And now Ms. Dooley expresses shock and indignation that Tea Party members are ‘anti-solar’?”

“Ms. Dooley also claims her designated champion did not face an objective audience because The Villages Tea Party allegedly has a particularly close relationship with me,” Taylor noted. “Yes, I did speak at a Villages Tea Party meeting once before. As a champion of free markets and limited government, I get asked to speak at a quite a few Tea Party meetings and other gatherings of grassroots conservatives and libertarians throughout my home state of Florida.” 

“It is rather ironic that an Atlanta-based mouthpiece for the solar power industry and for radical environmental activist groups proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution and then claims Floridians who speak up on behalf of free markets and limited government have an unfair advantage because the Florida Tea Parties already know them and respect their views,” Taylor continued. “If Ms. Dooley doesn’t want to run up against a Florida home court advantage in a public debate, maybe she should first move to Florida and get to know Floridians better before proposing a pork-barrel amendment to our Florida Constitution.”   

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.