A new Arizona license plate would say "Don't Tread on Me," but that's exactly what New York Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman wants the federal government to do with a new bill.
The plate, proposed by state Sen. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) in homage to the Tea Party, would be paid for by fees from would-be tag holders. The plates cost $25, $17 of which would be allocated to "promote Tea Party governing principles."
The New York lawmaker doesn't mind the idea of a politically-charged plate, but thinks putting the proceeds towards an interest group like the Tea Party amounts to a misuse of public money.
“Using official government resources to help bankroll an explicit political agenda –- whether on the right or left -– is flat out wrong,” said Ackerman.
In an effort to block such actions, Ackerman plans to introduce a bill in Congress called the "License Plate Political Slush Fund Prevention Act."
“It seems that the GOP in Arizona is attempting to do nothing more than create a slush fund for its Tea Party friends," he said. "It’s a scheme that smacks of cronyism, and should not be allowed to become law.”
Other states have proposed Tea Party plate laws, including Nevada, South Carolina and Virginia, and Texas passed one. But the money collected in those states doesn't fuel the Tea Party.
“License plates shouldn’t be used as political payoffs,” Ackerman contended. “The Arizona GOP might think differently if the legislation were to create a MoveOn.org license plate," he said, referring to the liberal advocacy group.
The congressman's bill would put the brakes on such laws by docking states that pass them 15% of their federal highway money.
Shooter's office did not answer requests for comment.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has not said if she will sign the measure, which has passed both houses of the state legislature.