Perriello's place II: Olbermann calls Whitehead 'worst'
As last week's cover story, "Perriello's place: When free speech collides with private property," hit the stands, Rutherford Institute director John Whitehead, quoted in the piece, sent a letter to Congressman Tom Perriello amplifying his concerns and urging him to move his Charlottesville office to a place "where citizens’ rights to petition and demonstrate will not be squelched by private property concerns."
For this, Keith Olbermann dubs Whitehead the "worst person in the world" on the MSNBC commentator's December 14 show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
"Whitehead wants Perriello to move his office to make it easier for the Tea Baggers to protest and threaten him," says Olbermann.
Whitehead's response: "Does the award come with a certificate or plaque?"
The controversy began when visitors to businesses in a Garrett Street complex called the Glass Building experienced difficulties, due to the crush of protesters, getting into the parking lot, where tenants such as Three Aesthetics pay $100 a month for spaces.
When police told a group of UVA College Republicans to protest on the public sidewalk or go into Perriello's office, the Republicans contacted the Rutherford Institute, as did the Jefferson Area Tea Party, voicing concerns that their rights to petition had been abridged.
Perriello is working on a letter to respond to Whitehead, says the Congressman's spokeswoman, Jessica Barba.
"We have met with and have continued to meet with anyone who wants to come inside the office," says Barba. "We have met with the Tea Party a number of times. The College Republicans–- that day police told them they couldn't use the parking lot–- they came inside and had a meeting. We'll continue to do that."
Barba notes that Perriello has leased the office through January 2011.
On the same day Olbermann blasted Whitehead, his Rutherford Institute received an email asking if its own office site were suitable for protesters objecting to the "lunacy" of his proposal to Perriello.
"Please note that we do have a sidewalk in front of the building where you could easily congregate with your signs, and if your rights are in any way infringed upon, The Rutherford Institute would commit itself to defending your rights under the First Amendment to peacefully assemble and protest," writes Rutherford spokeswoman Nisha Mohammed. "If it happens to be a cold day, we'd be glad to offer hot drinks and whatever else to help keep you warm."