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Arizona gives 'tea party' a license plate

Gov. Jan Brewer signs a bill approving a license plate commemorating the tea party movement and directing donations to it.

April 30, 2011

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed bills approving 11 new special license plates, including one to commemorate the "tea party" and send donations toward the movement.

Brewer, a Republican, acted on the license plate bills late Thursday without commenting. Spokesman Matt Benson declined to make any immediate comment Friday.

The tea party plate would feature the "Don't Tread On Me" slogan, rattlesnake emblem and yellow background of the historic Gadsden flag, which the movement has adopted.

Opponents say the tag inappropriately promotes a specific political movement. Supporters say it is meant to stand up for constitutional principles.

A Democratic congressman from New York has said he plans to introduce a bill that would cut off 15% of a state's federal highway funds if that state provided license plate proceeds to a political group that seeks to defeat candidates.

Arizona now has 46 special plates for a variety of groups, causes and purposes. Three others have been authorized, one as recently as April 13 in an earlier bill signed by Brewer.

Brewer signed that bill, which authorized a special plate honoring female veterans, but signaled concern about the growing number of special plates.

"Please consider the law enforcement community and the average citizen who have to identify, often in a split second, the vehicle's license plate number and state of issuance," she said in a letter to lawmakers.

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