A Tea Party-affiliated umbrella group that evaluates candidates' positions on issues has rejected 11th Congressional District candidate Vance Patterson because it says his solar panel business contradicts his promises on the campaign trail.
The Asheville Tea Party on Saturday announced its endorsement of Mark Meadows over Vance Patterson, who has used the Tea Party label to describe himself during campaigns for Congress in 2010 and this year. Patterson and Meadows, the top two vote-getters in the May 8 primary, face one another in a July 17 runoff.
Asheville Tea Party chairwoman Jane Bilello said in an interview Sunday that the Meadows endorsement resulted from an evaluation of both candidates by iCaucus, a national organization.
"We went through a vetting process with both Mark and Vance and we have decided that Mark fits our endorsement criteria better than Vance does," Bilello said. "There were things that Vance does that are not quite in line with us."
Asked what those were, Bilello said she would contact iCaucus. Less than an hour later, iCaucus issued a statement.
"It is with great regret that the iCaucus Executive Board has made the decision to remove Mr. Patterson from the endorsement process," it said. "It appears through research completed by the iCaucus teams at the State and National levels, there may be a conflict regarding the information contained on Mr. Patterson's business website and the commitments on those issues he made to the local iCaucus members and affiliate groups in the Qualifying Questionnaire. iCaucus was contacted by many of those constituents with these concerns. iCaucus is a organization of individual citizens uniting to take back their representation from the establishment and special interests."
Specifically, one of Patterson's companies makes solar panels and, in promoting them, points out that buyers can receive state and federal tax credits.
"The website we saw was forwarding the global warming issue and also the tax incentives at the state and federal level," Dara Bailey of San Diego, the national vetting director of iCaucus, said in an interview. She said voters in the 11th District "were the ones asking me to look at the issue."
Patterson, who mounted an unsuccessful Tea Party-based challenge to U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry in 2010, introduces himself at Republican events as the Tea Party candidate and tells audiences that he will go to Washington to enact Tea Party principles.
"We do not make solar panels," Patterson said on Sunday. "We do offer a thermal panel and have not sold any of those." The website does not actively promote the tax credit, nor does the company benefit from it. "We tell the customer it's available. We don't get any federal rebate or incentive. The whole issue was bogus, and they know all this."
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