An online petition is calling for the boycott of the Newtown Athletic Club after its owner has been accused of supporting a bus trip that sent approximately 200 people to Washington, D.C. last Wednesday. The business’ owner, Jim Worthington, has responded by saying that nobody on the buses participated in the violent riots that rocked the Capitol building as the Senate confirmed the election of Joe Biden.

Having been from the area, I had always heard rumors about Worthington’s political allegiance. In fact, he’s the founder of a People 4 Trump, PA 1st group, which describes itself as a grassroots organization in the first district "dedicated to Donald Trump as President of the United States."

But I first learned about last week’s news as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed:

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Many of my Facebook friends were sharing a post that said “Newtown people, Keep in mind that the owner of the @newtownac Jim Worthington, brought a group of folks to the capitol yesterday. Stop giving him your money.”

People are now so fed up that they started a petition calling on schools, local businesses, medical facilities, and more to end their partnership with the Athletic Club. The petition originated by Doylestown resident Greg Bullough.

The petition pushed Worthington to issue a statement on Facebook saying that many of those who traveled on the bus from Bucks County to Washington, D.C. were from other states.

Plus, “these folks are your neighbors, co-workers, supporters of your businesses and just plain Americans like all of you.  Each of these individuals paid for their own bus ticket,” he wrote in a Facebook post shared on Saturday.

Worthington noted that none of the riders participated in the violent riots.

“They left at 5:30 am in the morning and got back on their bus in Washington DC at 3:30pm to begin the trip home.  Not one of them was near the Capitol entrance when the rioting took place nor were most of them aware of any activities at the Capitol until after they got on the bus,” the business owner wrote.

One of the organizations named in the petition, the Bucks County Community College, announced on Monday that they have ended their partnership with the Athletic Club. 

This is not the first time he has received backlash in recent weeks. In December, Worthington defied the state’s orders to close fitness facilities amid the COVID-19 crisis. He told the Bucks County Courier Times that he expected to receive fines and violations, but called the restrictions against gyms "unfair" and "ridiculous."

The petition, which is hosted on Moveon.org, can be viewed here. You can click here to view Worthington's full statement. As of Tuesday morning, the petition has received more than 5,600 signatures.

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