The agenda for this year’s Tea Party Florida Convention lists Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pat Bondi as slated to appear at a dinner event with a “life member” of the radical John Birch Society.
The event, held in Daytona Beach Nov. 4-6, will feature G. Edward Griffin, billed as the “author of The Creature from Jekyll Island.” Griffin is an anti-Federal Reserve, anti-United Nations and anti-communist conspiracy theorist who describes himself as a “life member” of the John Birch Society.
The John Birch Society is an infamous radical anti-communist group. Griffin defended his membership in the group in a 2007 post featured on the website of an organization called Freedom Force International. According to the site, Freedom Force is “a network of men and women from all parts of the world who are concerned over loss of personal liberty and expansion of government power.”
“I can understand how mention of my association with The John Birch Society may cause some people to raise an eyebrow,” Griffin wrote, adding:
The general impression among many is that the Society is an extremist organization made up of kooks, McCarthyites, and racists. So let me jump to the bottom line.
I am a life member of The John Birch Society and, for several years in the 1960s, served on the Society’s staff as a Major Coordinator and official spokesman. From over forty years of personal contact with its members and leadership, I can say with authority that the Society is an excellent educational organization promoting limited government and opposing collectivism in all of its forms. There is nothing about it that is contrary to the highest standards of morality and ethical conduct.
Griffin wrote that “the John Birch Society is composed of some of the finest men and women you will ever hope to meet.”
“The charges of extremism, racism, anti-Semitism, and all the rest are pure hogwash,” he wrote. “But there is an important lesson in this story. The treatment given to the Birch Society is exactly the kind of treatment we can expect for ourselves when we become strong enough to challenge the collectivist stranglehold over the power centers of society.”
In 2010, the decision by organizers of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to allow the John Birch Society to co-sponsor the event generated headlines. The New York Times reported in 2009 on the Society’s attempt to rebrand itself:
[For some], the John Birch Society is urgently relevant to the matters of today, in its support of secure borders and limited government, its distrust of the Federal Reserve and the United Nations, and its belief in a conspiracy to merge Mexico, Canada and the United States.
This so-called North American Union, it asserts, is part of a larger plot by an amorphous, amoral group of powerful elite — including but not limited to the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Rockefellers — to take over planet Earth. Call it the New World Order.
Some of these theories may sound like cable television chatter, or the synopsis of a Dan Brown bestseller. But Birch leaders say this plot is real, with roots going back more than 200 years to a secret, insidious brotherhood called the Illuminati, and with most American presidents among its many dupes and abettors.
On the agenda for later in the convention are Franz Kebreau and “Sherriff Mack.” Mack believes the government push to require people to wear seat belts is not because the government “wants us to be safe.” ”We have seat belt laws simply because people with money wanted us to have seat belt laws,” he writes, adding that he is “proud” to say he never issued a seat belt citation as a sheriff.
In June, Bondi told The Florida Independent she could not confirm whether she was attending the tea party convention. Bondi’s office did not respond to new requests about whether she plans to attend.
A spokesman for Scott tells the Independent that the governor’s schedule has not been finalized for November, and so cannot confirm whether Scott will attend.