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Mo. Constitution Party prepares for anti-tax "tea parties"

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 10, 2009 - Missouri's Constitution Party appears to be elevating its profile, after being improperly linked by the Missouri Highway Patrol a few weeks ago with the modern militia movement in that now infamous report.

State Constitution Party chairman Donna Ivanovich, of Arnold, says she has a written apology from Patrol chief James Keathley, dated March 31. She's been circulating copies among the party's members around the state.

But Ivanovich says the party -- which garnered enough statewide votes last November to guarantee ballot access -- is focusing on the future, not the past.

Next Wednesday, the group's members will be participating in three anti-tax "Tea Party'' events to mark the April 15 deadline for filing federal and state tax returns.

The Constitution Party is among a number of area groups planning to join the "Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party'' to be held next Wednesday in Kiener Plaza from 6:30-8 p.m.

On its own, the Constitution Party is also organizing two other such "parties'' -- at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Ava., Mo., in front of the Douglas County Courthouse, and another that starts at 5 p.m. in Cape Girardeau featuring conservative commentator and author David Limbaugh.

"We're patriots. We believe in the Constitution and the bill of rights,'' says local Constitution Party member Jan Spaits of west St. Louis County. She and her husband were drawn to the party, Spaits said, by its belief that the nation's founders embraced "God-based'' core values.

On April 24-25, the Missouri Constitution Party is holding its Second Annual End the Fed Rally in Kansas City. The event's speakers are to include Darrell Castle, the party's national vice presidential nominee last fall.

Fewer than 9,000 Missourians voted last November for Castle and Constitution Party presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin. It was state treasurer candidate Rodney Farthing, and his 66,062 votes, that won the party its coveted automatic ballot access.

That means the Constitution Party can automatically field statewide candidates in 2010 and 2012, and won't need to conduct a petition drive.

The Libertarian Party, in contrast, failed to keep its status since none of its statewide candidates won the necessary 2 percent of the overall vote.

The Constitution Party is socially and fiscally conservative. And its members are being courted by some like-minded Republicans. The group is meeting next Thursday with state Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, at a public gathering that begins at 6:45 p.m. at the Family Vision Library, 516 S. 5th Street in St. Charles.

A meeting is planned for June in south St. Louis County with state Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay.

Ivanovich feels pretty good about where her party is going. She's also pleased with Keathley's letter of apology.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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