Gerritson’s testimony put Wetumpka ‘on the map’Published 1:54pm Thursday, June 20, 2013
It’s not often that Wetumpka is part of a national conversation, but the IRS’s targeting of the city’s tea party group put it in the spotlight of political controversy.
And Wetumpka Tea Party President Becky Gerritson’s impassioned testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee made the comparatively small group one of the nation’s best-known.
Conservative star and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said that “from Wasilla (Alaska) to Wetumpka, so many Americans are asserting their rights,” during a speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington D.C.
Gerritson received a standing ovation from more than 150 Wetumpka Tea Party members at the group’s monthly meeting Monday night at Elmore Community Hospital.
She was wearing a pink T-shirt bearing the words “Born-Free American Woman,” a phrase taken from her opening statement given to the House committee.
“I am a born-free, American woman – wife, mother and citizen – and I’m telling my government that you have forgotten your place,” Gerritson said, her voice crackling with emotion.
It was a line that echoed through the national consciousness and led most accounts of the damning testimony given that day.
Gerritson said Monday night that new visitors to the group’s website, wetumpkateaparty.com, exploded from 100 per week to more than 3,400 in the following days. Gerritson played videos of Palin’s speech, highlighting her references to Wetumpka, and personal shout-outs from former Rep. Alan West — a veteran and Tea Party favorite — and FOXNews radio host Sean Hannity.
She said they have received hundreds of emails from across the country, including messages from an executive with a major investment bank and one from an FBI agent, though she withheld the identities of both.
“We’ve also gotten some notes from Democrats,” she said. “They’ll say that most times, we don’t see eye to eye, but I heard what you said and we agree on this issue.”
“People know the love of country we have here in Wetumpka,” Gerritson said. “They agree that this is America, not the crooks in Washington, or in our Statehouse.”
One poignant photo that came out of the hearing depicted Becky Gerritson being hugged by her husband Eric after she gave her testimony.
Eric had been watching the online reactions to his wife’s testimony as it happened. During the hug, Becky said, Eric whispered in her ear “you’re a rock star!”
“How does it feel to be Becky’s husband?” one member asked Eric, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Frank Vawter also announced plans for a “Job Well Done” celebration July 11 at the Wetumpka Civic Center. The event will thank Becky Gerritson for her noble representation of area residents. Vawter said they’re planning to set out 600 chairs for the event, but hope to see as many as 900 attend.
The keynote speaker for Monday’s meeting was Susan Tully of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group opposed to the current “Gang of Eight” legislation now making its way through Congress. Her speech expressed strong misgivings about the bill, and pointed out the alleged falsehoods about border enforcement and other issues stated publicly by Democratic and Republican sponsors of the bill.