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Controversy Over Tea Party Members Being Kicked Out of Workshop

Rucker said she along with other tea party members were told to leave by Skinner, even though on the Jefferson County Commission website says all meetings shall be open to the public.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, W.Va. - Some members of a local West Virginia Tea Party are speaking out after being asked to leave a workshop at the Jefferson County Commission public meeting room last week.

Patricia Rucker, president of the Jefferson County Tea Party, says she wanted to learn about running for office and brought her kids to last week's Jefferson County Democratic Association workshop. The meeting was run by Delegate Stephen Skinner at the Jefferson County Commission Public Meeting Room.

"You need to do the steps, to know what those steps are a head of time, so you can make in a consideration as to whether or not if you are going to run,” said Rucker.

Rucker said she along with other tea party members were told to leave by Skinner, even though on the Jefferson County Commission website says all meetings shall be open to the public.

Now Rucker and the group say they’re upset that they were kicked out, while Dale Manuel the County Commission President sat there and looked on.

"One of the comments I heard was, ‘Well we came here to learn, we certainly learned what the opposition party is all about,’" said Peter Onoszko, of the Jefferson County Tea Party. "The fact that it was in the public meeting room, we were asked to leave didn't sit well with us."

"Actually it asserts it in the policy, you have to sign that you agree to stand by the rules, and you are personally held responsible to abide to those rules for your organization," said Rucker, of Jefferson County Tea Party.  

However Delegate Stephen Skinner said he admitted in asking them to leave. He said the Tea Party members were trying to play a gimmick in trying to attend a Democratic workshop.

"This is a tea party trick. We have a constitutional right to assemble and we have a constitutional right to meet without the other party in the room, and frankly these tea party tricks are not good for anyone," said Delegate Skinner (D) - Jefferson, District 67.

Skinner doesn't believe the tea partiers came to learn about running for office.  

"This was a staged attempt. They planned this out ahead of time, and you will see there are some emails out there, that they are happy that they got thrown out because they want to embarrass democrats," said Skinner.  

The ousted Tea Party members say they're going to this week's county commission meeting and plan to speak about what occurred last week. 

Rucker says she plans to file a complaint to the West Virginia Ethics Commission against Delegate Stephen Skinner and County Commission President Dale Manuel. Thirteen Jefferson County Tea Party members attempted to attend the workshop.

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