Tea party group folds
■ Nonprofit had problem finding leader
By Mike Harris (VC County Star)
After several years of fighting for limited government, free markets and personal liberty, the Simi Valley/Moorpark Tea Party is no more.
The nonprofit, which was founded about 2009, recently dissolved because no one was willing to lead it anymore, former officers said Monday. Another factor was declining attendance at meetings after the 2012 presidential election, they said.
As a result, the group is no longer a plaintiff in a federal class-action lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service over the agency’s admitted enhanced scrutiny of tea party groups, said the organization’s former executive director, Jared Held.
But if the lawsuit succeeds, the group, as an injured party, could apply for a portion of the damages, said attorney Mark Meckler, president of Texas-based Citizens for Self-Governance, which is funding the litigation.
The lawsuit, filed in May 2013 by an umbrella organization of Northern California tea party groups, is being litigated in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. The judge in the case last week took under submission a government motion to dismiss the suit, Meckler said.
For most of its existence, the Simi Valley/Moorpark Tea Party, which did not have a formal membership but maintained an email list of about 250 people, was led by founder Doug Crosse. He stepped down as president last year and was succeeded by Held.
Held then got a new fulltime job that left him little time to lead the group, said the group’s former vice president, Bob Powers.
Crosse declined to comment.
“The bottom line is that an organization like that needs one person who has the time to lead it,” Powers said.
“They came to me, and I just don’t have the time to do it full time,” said Powers, who leads the John Birch Society in Simi Valley and Moorpark and sits on Simi Valley’s Neighborhood Council No. 4. “And there really was nobody else to step up.”
Powers said attendance at Simi Valley/Moorpark Tea Party meetings started to dwindle after President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection.
“The difference between the tea party and other groups I’ve been involved with is that people come and go,” he said. “People just don’t stay focused very long. You can rally the troops with the proper leadership, but without the proper leadership, it just fades away.”
George Miller, founder of the Ventura County Tea Party, downplayed the significance of the Simi Valley/Moorpark group’s demise, saying the movement remains strong in the county. He said some of the former members of the group work with other tea party groups in the county: his, the Thousand Oaks Tea Party, the Conejo Valley Tea Party and an allied group, Not Going to Take It Anymore.
“We have quite a bit of cross-membership,” Miller said.