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School District Turns Down Tea Party Offer of Free Copies of Constitution

I wasn't sure I'd ever find a way to work the "tea party" movement—a favorite topic of journalists everywhere—into this blog, but now I've found my angle.

Apparently, the Tea Party Hilton Head Island in South Carolina had wanted to distribute pocket-sized copies of the U.S.Constitution to all public school students in grades 5-12 in the area, but the offer was declined by local school officials, according to a story in the Beaufort Gazette.

Superintendent Valerie Truesdale of the Beaufort County school system announced at a school board meeting that the district will instead order its pocket-sized Constitutions, which include the Declaration of Independence, directly from the U.S. Government Printing Office.

The issue, it seems, was that the versions the local tea party planned to distribute included a stamp that said "compliments of Joe Wilson," the story explains. Rep. Joe Wilson is running for re-election this year in the district that includes Beaufort County. And the district wanted to avoid politically affiliated materials.

I should note, however, that Rep. Wilson is not running as a tea party candidate. He's a Republican. (You might remember him as the lawmaker who shouted "You lie!" during a 2009 address that President Obama delivered to Congress on health care.) That said, he is a member of the "Tea Party Caucus" in the U.S. House.

The story says the local tea party originally intended to buy the pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, but then learned it could get free ones from Rep. Wilson to pass along. In the end, the local tea party seemed OK with the outcome.

"The whole purpose was our desire to put pocket Constitutions and the Declaration of Independence in the hands of the students, and it's happening," the story quotes the founder of the local tea party group, Kate Keep, as saying. "I'm thrilled to death."

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