A group calling itself the Tea Party won't appear on the November ballot as a political party, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The appeals court denied motions both for the Tea Party group and for the tea party movement opposing ballot status for the Tea Party group, in effect upholding a Michigan Board of State Canvassers 2-2 decision last week that refused the Tea Party group status as a political party.
"The lack of a decision by the appeals court means they're not on the ballot," said Lansing John D. Pirich, who is representing tea party organizations opposed to political party status for the group calling itself Tea Party.
The Tea Party group had filed about 59,400 signatures seeking political party status, but the state canvassers in their 2-2 split decision objected to the fact that Tea Party appeared in some places on the petitions and The Tea Party in others.
"They failed to strictly comply with the requirements of the law," Michigan Secretary of State spokeswoman Kelly Chesney said.
The appeals court also ruled against the attorney's representing the tea party movement and seeking an order blocking political party status, saying that their efforts were premature.
In Oakland County, nine candidates were part of the slate of candidates the Tea Party group was seeking to place on the November ballot.
Republicans have argued the group is a front for Democrats seeking to split Republican votes in November.
Most recently, county officials challenged the filings of candidates associated with the group, arguing the signature of the candidates on their filings didn't match the signatures on their voter registrations. One candidate listed wrote that he hadn't filed for election and was living out of state.
County Clerk Ruth Johnson singled out Oakland County Democratic Party employee Jason Bauer as the notary on many of the filings.
Bauer and county party Chairman Mike McGuinness both resigned.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who with the support of the sheriff, clerk and prosecutor filed for a one-person grand jury investigation last week, said the decision of the appeals court is separate from the grand jury investigation into the candidate filings they are seeking.
"These are local offices that were being applied for," Patterson said. "The fact that the party didn't get on the ballot as far as I'm concerned, when these crimes were committed, is a separate issue."
Patterson said the appeals court decision was the right one.
"I think that whole tea party scam didn't pass the smell test," he said. "The court obviously caught a whiff of it.
"Politics is too serious a game for these kinds of efforts to confuse the voter and I'm glad the court knocked it down."
State elections officials said attorneys for Tea Party group can still appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Contact staff writer Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @crummc.