Did Wake County school board member John Tedesco break the board's code of ethics when he made his speech at last week's Tea Party rally?
Several speakers at Tuesday's board meeting accused Tedesdo of crossing the ethical line and said he should be punished. The board's code of ethics says members should avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest and refrain from using his or her position for personal or partisan gain.
Tedesco talked about fighting social engineering and promoting conservative values during a speech in which he repeatedly praised the Tea Partiers.
"I thank all of you today, here a few months later, after we've taken the helm of the state's largest school system because people like you said enough to the social engineers that we stand battered and beaten and every day they come out there swinging at us," Tedesco said. "But I thank all of you because today I still stand honored and humbled before each of you to have the opportunity to serve and to represent the people."
Later in the speech, Tedesco talks about how people are surprised the school board majority is fulfilling its campaign promises.
"They said surely the intimidation of such big bureaucracy will stop them," Tedesco said. "We said no. They said surely they'll come up and drink the Kool-aid when we tell them. We said no. The reason we said no is because there's an army of people like you out here today who said enough."
Here's the teaching children to fish remark that has drawn controversy.
"I thank all of you for standing behind us and I promise you that we're going to keep, keep bringing conservative values to education, keep putting more family choice in there, put more rights and responsibilities on our parents," Tedesco said. "Because I believe when we teach a man to fish, or in this case our children, we can feed them for life and not have the government have to feed them."
Chase Foster, a registered lobbyist for the liberal N.C. Voters for Clean Elections, was the most vocal of the critics at Tuesday's board meeting. As you may recall, Foster wrote a post for the liberal N.C. Policy Watch's Progressive Pulse blog based on on a conversation he overhead Tedesco engaged in.
Foster put his remarks from the board meeting online too.
Foster accused Tedesco of compromising the integrity of the board by speaking to "an extremist and sometimes violent political group."
Foster said Tedesco should be "professionally punished for using this public office to advance your partisan, political career in such a cheap and repellant way."
"One thing is for sure, Mr. Tedesco," Foster said. "By speaking to this fringe group, you have outed yourself… as a right-wing extremist who is set on destroying and balkanizing our school system, as a pawn of Bob Luddy and Art Pope’s school privatization agenda, and as a self-aggrandizing, Palin-esque politician seeking fame off the backs and lives of Wake County’s 140,000 students."
During a break at Tuesday's board meeting, Tedesco defended himself against the charges of unethical behavior.
"I don't believe that to be the case," Tedesco said. "I received no benefit from it."
Some of his Democratic colleagues appear at party events and donate money, Tedesco said. Tedesco is a Republican.