PORTLAND, Ore. – A group planning to infiltrate Tea Party protests on Tax Day is led by a local teacher who has received threats after it became known he was behind the group.
During April 15’s Tea Party rallies, Beaverton Middle School teacher Jason Levin’s group plans to dress and act like Tea Party members but “crazier” with the goal to damage the movement’s reputation. However, members of the Tea Party movement said that's defamation. They're also now claiming that Levin worked on his “Crash the Tea Party” Web site when he should have been teaching.
Levin admits he did have plans to dress up like a member of the movement, but that all changed after his face and personal number were posted on the Internet. “My phone rang around the clock,” he said.
On his answering machine he received messages like: “Hey Jason, this is Robins Mitchell in Houston, Texas, again. ... We’re going to (expletive deleted) you April 15 if you try to mess with the Tea Party.”
His Web site, Facebook page, and Twitter account are all devoted to bringing down the Tea Party movement from the inside by exaggerating its least appealing qualities.
He said he plans to make the movement look bad by misspelling signs and making wild claims, which is an idea he borrowed from a recent counter-protest by Twitter.
“So they infiltrated this group and stood next to them holding up these signs that were equally ludicrous as Westborough signs. Eventually, the people dispersed because they realized nobody could tell the kooks from the kooks,” Levin said.
He said he worked with friends around the country to develop the idea and said they felt the movement is almost out of control, especially after last summer’s health care town hall meetings where health care overhaul opponents shouted down proponents.
“So rather than fight fire with fire, we decided, rather than shouting at them as their opponents, that we would do something a little more panache, and that was to infiltrate the movement and try to take it down,” Levin said.
On his Web site he says his group wants to take down the movement “by any non-violent means necessary.”
Conservative radio talk show host, Lars Larson, has gotten an earful from Tea Party supporters and said he doesn’t like Levin’s ethics.
“This is a man who thinks it’s legitimate to further your political goals by lying, by stealing and damaging somebody else’s reputation,” Larson said. “I don’t want a kid like that teaching kids.”
He also said he doesn’t buy the Beaverton School District’s answer that what happens during off-hours is a teacher’s business.
“If you ran a Klan Web site on your own time, do you think you would be excused?” Larson said. “If you ran a porno Web site, which is also legal, do you think you would be excused in that kind of job?”
When asked if it was fair to compare that person to someone who does pornos or is a white supremacist, Larson said, “Sure, because all of those are simply forms of free speech.”
One of his listeners called attention to code (“<o:LastAuthor>BSD</o:LastAuthor>” and “<o:Created>2010-04-06T22:32:00Z</o:Created>”) from Levin’s site that the listener said shows it was created on school software during school hours.
“He Twitters all day long while he’s on the public payroll,” Larson said. “Do you think that he would do something like this (the Web page) on the public payroll – sit there and type a document? I wouldn’t find that amazing.”
Levin denied that.
“That is absolutely incorrect,” he said. “The Web site was registered, created and maintained on my own time at my own home.”
Officials with the district and the state said they will investigate.
Levin said he thought all this would get laughs from people ... not threats.
- Crash the Tea Party Web site
- Crash the Tea Party Facebook page
- Crash the Tea Party Twitter page
- Oregon Tea Party Web site
- Oregon Tea Party Facebook page
On Wednesday Levin explained the portion of his Web site code “BSD” that has come under scrutiny and has led to the allegations he built and worked on the Web site on school time.
On April 3 he registered the domain name and on April 4, while grading papers at school, he said he remembered he needed to get something up (on the Web site). He said he opened Microsoft Word on his school computer and typed “COMING SOON”. He then saved that file to a thumb drive and took it home where he said he used his personal computer and software to upload it to the Internet later that night.
It appeared on Wednesday that the “BSD” had been removed from the site and a KATU News reporter noticed both the “BSD” and the “COMING SOON” in the source code of the Web site on Tuesday. Here’s the “COMING SOON” code:
<meta name=Title content="COMING SOONÉ">
Code with the “BSD” removed: