01.31.2010 0

ALG in the News: Tea Party conference hit by allegations of profiteering and hijacking

  • On: 02/08/2010 11:47:30
  • In: Conservative Movement

  • ALG Editor’s Note: In the following featured article, The London Telegraph quotes ALG Senior News Editor on the tea party movement.

    Tea Party conference hit by allegations of profiteering and hijacking

    The first national conference for America’s burgeoning Tea Party movement has been hit by allegations of profiteering and hijacking of the cause.

    By Alex Spillius in Washington

    Disgruntled critics within the grassroots conservative movement have become particularly incensed by the $100,000 (£63,000) fee to be paid to Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate who will be the star of the event as its keynote speaker.

    After adverse comments from Right-wing bloggers – one commented: “that’s a lot of damned tea” – Mrs Palin has promised to donate the fee to “campaigns, candidates and issues”.

    “My only goal is to support the grassroots activists who are fighting for responsible, limited government – and our Constitution,” she wrote in USA Today, defending her decision to speak at the convention.

    “The nature of the Tea Party movement means there may never be a ’perfectly orchestrated’ event: democracy in action doesn’t come with a manual.”

    A loose confederation of conservative campaigners, the Tea Party movement sprung up in opposition to the bank bail outs and President Barack Obama’s £492 billion stimulus bill. It gathered steam with vocal opposition to his plans to overhaul the health care system, which caused several Democrats to dilute their support.

    But now leading activist groups have scrapped plans to attend the movement’s first major event, which begins today [thurs] at a plush resort hotel on the outskirts of Nashville.

    Several sponsors have pulled out along with two speakers, the Republican congresswomen Michelle Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn, who were concerned about the event’s for-profit status.

    Tickets for three days of speeches, workshops and strategy sessions cost £343, with the closing banquet featuring Mrs Palin alone costing £218.

    Intended to unite the disparate movement that is threatening to revolutionise American politics, the event is doing more to divide it. Eric Erickson, founder of the leading Right-wing blog RedState.com, said the high charges being sought from modest-earning activists by little-known organisers “sounds as credible as an email from Nigeria promising me a million bucks if I fork over my bank account number”.

    “I think the tea party movement has largely descended into ego and quest for purpose for individuals at the expense of what the tea party movement started out to be,” he said.
    The event is the brainchild of Judson Phillips, a lawyer backed financially by Bill Hemrick, a retired businessman who made a fortune from baseball player cards. He was initially keen to involve Mrs Palin in a business venture.

    At first Mr Phillips said that all profits would go to a political fund to support conservative candidates. Lately he has claimed the convention could even lose money.

    Robert Romano, a spokesman for Americans for Limited Government, a Washington pressure group, said: “The for-profit model for tea parties is probably a mistake. It clearly hasn’t benefitted the movement to proceed in that manner.”

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