*11/15/10 - Updated with Tea Party Express statement
**11/15/10 - Tea Party Patriots tells members to stop phone drive
The Tea Party Patriots have got a lot of explaining to do. Fresh off helping campaigns for GOP wins in the U.S. House of Representatives, members in the Tea Party Patriots organization appear to be playing dirty tricks on Capitol Hill to the dismay of tea party activists who supported efforts of the organization during the midterm elections.
Leaders of the Tea Party Patriots released the private e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers of newly elected Republican members of the freshman class, Roll Call reported on Friday. Urging their members to contact the new GOP’er’s on the hill, Tea Party Patriots leader Jenny Beth Martin attacked the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank, for scheduling an event for new members that conflicted with the Tea Party Patriots events this weekend.
It should be noted that TPP banned press from their member meeting that was held at the Reagan Building on Sunday. The TPP campaigned on the issue of demanding transparency from members of Congress, but it seems like the Tea Party Patriots fell short on this issue when it came to their own organization.
Furthermore, the group will not reveal who donated the money to pay for the Washington D.C. event; however, they demand equal time with new lawmakers, ban press from their member meetings, won’t take questions about their member meetings following the meeting, so it is difficult to take seriously a group that condones publicizing private cell phone numbers and e-mails of lawmakers but wants TPP information to remain private. A hypocritical stance, indeed.
In an email sent to TPP members and later posted online, the call to TPP members to contact new GOP members stated the following:
“We need you to call & e-mail these incoming Congressmen & tell them you want them to attend YOUR Tea Party Patriots event,” Ms. Martin wrote. “The water in the Potomac is infected with the politics of the past and needs to be boiled to be cleansed and then steeped in fresh tea,” Martin wrote. “You are the fresh tea. Today we need your help.”
According to Roll Call, Brian Kennedy, president of the Claremont Institute wrote in an e-mail:
“After a mass e-mail was sent out calling for Tea Party members to harass me, effectively, I have received many nasty and threatening calls saying we should ‘stand down’ and that ‘they have my number.’”
A source within TPP told me that a number of members are angry at Ms. Martin for publishing the private contact information of the new lawmakers. With so much dissatisfaction among the ranks, Ms. Martin may be concerned that TPP factions might look for her to be ousted as leader of the organization.
Grassroots conservatives are already condemning Tea Party Patriots for their actions. Red State reported that the Florida Tea Party 9/12 project members “reject national “Tea Party Patriots” methods.
In an e-mail statement, Levi Russell of the Tea Party Express wrote to me:
“We flatly disagree with the recent actions of some of the leadership within TPP over the past few days, which amounts to harassment of many freshmen members and bashing of the highly respected Claremont Institute.
Our response – along with that of many other conservative groups nationwide - has been to privately reach out to the incoming freshmen and let them know we support them, stand by them, and feel that the TPP showed very poor judgment in publicizing their private emails and personal cell phone numbers. We do not want to bully these newly elected leaders, we want to support and empower them to make the right decisions in congress that will help lower taxes, stop the excess spending, and reduce the encroachment of government into our private lives.”
Congressman-elect Michael Grimm, New York Republican, described to reporters on Sunday the deluge of e-mails and calls he received:
“I got to find out what’s happening at orientation. You can’t sit there and basically read the same e-mails over and over again,” Mr. Grimm said, as he pointed out that he received more e-mails than cell phone calls as a result of TPP’s publishing his contact information.
“I planned on meeting some of the freshman now and going to the dinner tonight. The rest of my day I have interviews scheduled for potential chiefs of staff and schedules and so on, so I’m not going to any of them. So I just got bombarded for no reason at all.”
Tea Party Patriots also gained the ire of social conservatives whom leaders of TPP chided in a letter to Republican leaders be released on Monday demanding the GOP stay away from social issues and stick to fiscal issues.
An e-mail to Ms. Martin was sent early Sunday evening for further comment on this post, and no response was received.