Jason Levin, the middle school teacher behind the Crash The Tea Party project, is dismissing claims that he misused his position to organize the scheme.
Levin is currently on a paid leave from the Beaverton, Oregon school district where he works while school officials investigate charges that he used school time and equipment to create the website CrashTheTeaParty.org. He told me his attorneys have advised him not to do any interviews while the investigation runs its course. But in a written statement he emailed me this morning, Levin said the charges are without merit.
“Any allegation that I used school district equipment or district time to create or maintain the website is completely and totally false,” Levin wrote. “The fact that teachers are held to a higher standard when excercising their right to free speech (in their private lives) is patently unfair.”
In a sign that the hullabaloo the project has caused is getting to him, however, Levin has offered the site up for sale — cleaning his hands of the tea party infiltration plan that drew the ire of conservatives across the country, including Sean Hannity.The investigation into Levin’s activities surrounding the web site came after the district was inundated with calls and emails from protesters angry that a public school teacher was behind the plan to infiltrate the tea party movement and, as Levin told me Tuesday, “push them farther from the mainstream.”
Conservative radio host Lars Larson explained the conservative’s complaint on his show Wednesday.
“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.”
“If you ran a Klan Web site on your own time, do you think you would be excused?” he added. “If you ran a porno Web site, which is also legal, do you think you would be excused in that kind of job?”
The investigation into whether Levin used school equipment or time to create the site is ongoing. A school district official promised to get back to me later today when I called for comment.
Some of the protesters calling the Beaverton district seemed upset that a teacher would be so open with his political views. In his email this morning, Levin said that it was ridiculous to believe that teachers abandoned their political views just because they take a job in a public school.
“If people want teachers to behave like angels 24/7, then they need to start paying us for our time 24/7,” he wrote.
Still, it seems that this particular chapter in Levin’s political life is over.
“One more thing,” he wrote in his email this morning. “I’m willing to sell crashtheteaparty.org if anyone is interested.”