(Lebanon, PA) – The Constitutional Organization Of Liberty (COOL), a conservative, non-partisan political action committee registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State, is denouncing the inclusion of its organization in a controversial report prepared for the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security by the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR).
Mark Thomas, Chairman for COOL, said he was shocked that the educational group was being considered a terror threat to the Commonwealth.
“It is stunning that some obscure group included COOL in its report,” Thomas said. “Our objective and primary focus is, and always has been, educating the people of Pennsylvania about the principles our country was founded on.”
“If teaching the Constitution is now considered terrorist activity, then I guess we’re guilty as charged,” he said. “But at least we’re in good company – like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin.”
State Senator Mike Folmer, one of the original organizers of COOL and a current Board member, expressed frustration when he learned that the group had been included in the report.
“I’m really not happy about this,” Folmer said. “We have a governor who has spent our state into near bankruptcy, who has driven countless businesses out of the state, and who is forever trying to take more out of the taxpayers wallet – and now we learn that he used public money to finance a report that attacks people who are trying to educate citizens about the very document he swore to uphold and defend.”
“This is not a Republican thing or a Democrat thing, it is a liberty thing,” he said. “When law abiding citizens become the target of suspicious government because the people in government don’t like what they are saying, then the 1st Amendment is in greater jeopardy than we realize.”
Folmer said he intends to help push for legislative hearings to find out exactly who authorized the ITRR report and how ITRR was designated to complete the report.
Louis Petolicchio, who serves as a course instructor for COOL, said he found the inclusion of the group in the ITRR report ironic since COOL had nothing to do with the activity which was deemed as ‘terrorist.’
“According to the report, COOL was sponsoring the 2nd Annual State Capitol Taxpayers’ Protest in Harrisburg on June 8 of this year,” he noted. “Problem is that COOL had nothing to do with that rally as it was organized by State Representative Darryl Metcalfe.”
According to published reports, Metcalfe, a lawmaker from western Pennsylvania, has demanded that Governor Ed Rendell explain why the taxpayer rally was included on the bulletin intended to identify terror threats.
“What’s most disturbing about this report is the sloppy research that went into it on the part of the ITRR,” Petolicchio said. “They completely screwed up the parties involved on this particular item in their report.”
“And, if they couldn’t get their facts straight on this ‘threat’, then what else did they screw up in their report,” he asked.
“It is amazing that the ITRR managed to do enough research to quote the COOL website which makes it very clear that we teach the constitution as the rule of law but then completely muddled the facts about the rally and proceeded to identify COOL as a threat,” Petolicchio added. “The two questions now are how do they correct the mess they have made and why are our tax dollars funding such incompetence.”