Tea Parties Hijacked By GOP?

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I’ve been sitting on this story for several days now, delaying posting it to the Fellowship until after the sacred Christmas season because the implications are so unpleasant and troubling.
The populist political movement known as the Tea Party Express (TPE) is a conservative, spontaneous, grassroots movement. It began almost immediately after Obama was inaugurated as president. The movement coalesced last spring around the April 15th tax deadline, then erupted in the summer culminating in the historic 9-12 March on D. C.
From the beginning, the TPE is anti-Democrat and anti-liberal, but neithr synonymous nor coterminous with the GOP. The following article, however, raises some very troubling questions:

  1. Why is a GOP political consulting firm called Russo, Marsh, and Associates, the recipient of some 65% of the expenses of the TPE’s political action committee, Our Country Deserves Better (OCDB)?
  2. How is it that OCDB was founded in July 2008 at a time when Tea Parties had not yet been formed, because Obama had not yet become the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate (the Democratic Party Convention was a month later, in August 25-28), and certainly had not yet been elected President in November?
  3. How is it that OCDB was created by the same man, Sal Russo, who also founded the GOP consulting firm that is the recipient of $857,122 from OCDB?

Has the Tea Party Express been hijacked by the GOP?
Zachary Roth | December 28, 2009
The political action committee behind the Tea Party Express (TPE) — which already has been slammed as inauthentic and corporate-controlled by rival factions in the Tea Party movement — directed almost two thirds of its spending during a recent reporting period back to the Republican consulting firm that created the PAC in the first place.

Our Country Deserves Better (OCDB) spent around $1.33 million from July through November, according to FEC filings examined by TPMmuckraker. Of that sum, a total of $857,122 went to Sacramento-based GOP political consulting firm Russo, Marsh, and Associates, or people associated with it.
OCDB, which built the Tea Party Express, is essentially a Russo, Marsh creation, as we’ve detailed. The PAC’s site was registered in July 2008 by Sal Russo, the firm’s founder. That site also lists Russo as the PAC’s “chief strategist.” Tea Party Express fundraising emails, sent by OCDB and obtained by TPMmuckraker, come from another Russo, Marsh employee, Joe Wierzbicki.
Just for good measure, legendary GOP bamboozler Howard Kaloogian is also on OCDB’s board, and has close ties to Russo, Marsh.
From July through November 2009, the firm received $832,403 from OCDB, according to the FEC records. An additional $8,500 went to Russo himself. And Wierzbicki took in $16,219.
The services for which Russo, Marsh was paid appear to be legitimate campaign needs. For instance, it took in several hundred thousand for what OCDB listed in the FEC filings as “PAC Email Newsletter Costs – Generic Fun.” That would appear to refer to the numerous fund-raising and activism emails sent to volunteers to promote and build the Tea Party Express — a nationwide bus tour to build opposition to the Obama agenda — many of them by Wierzbicki.
But one expert on political action committees told TPMmuckraker it was unusual for a PAC to direct so much spending back to the entity that created it. And the spending details raised hackles among members of the Tea Party Patriots, a rival faction of conservative activists who have denounced TPE as a creature of Republican political professionals that lacks grassroots authenticity. In an email to a Patriots group that was obtained by TPMmuckaker, one TPPer who had examined the filings asked, “What would the true grassroots people think if they knew their money is being spent in this manner?”
A message left in the general mailbox for Russo, Marsh was not immediately returned.

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4 responses to “Tea Parties Hijacked By GOP?

  1. Roll on November. And 2012.
    But Tea-Party PEOPLE must be careful.
    If a separate party is formed it will be in competition to the GOP and where 3 parties running the winner could poll just 34% of vote – resulting in the front-runner being the ASS
    Exactly what happened in that upper NY precinct – the Conservative thrashed that GOP liberal (and rightly so) but still lost the race.
    The town-halls were to pressure mainly asses to wake up as to who actually votes, for them or against them, and the risks they therefore run. And it seems to have had some effect.
    From now on the pressure must be on GOP – put up candidates who are true conservatives or risk it – elephants have long memories.
    Now, that GOP hijacked Tea-party, I’d say that Russo hijacked the GOP, and the Tea-party money, but not necessarily the movement. A new leadership can emerge that is not beholden to Russo-ites (read DC-ites ??)
    Therefore, what really needs to happen is that patriots, workers (tax-payers) and anyone that suddenly wakes up to realize they are somewhat conservative, must “hijack” (take back) the GOP, and boot out the obama-lite DC-ites with no morals, those that have shown they are in it for the money and perks.
    Ben Nelson’s case (30% down) should be a lesson not only for his ass-mates. The GOP might gloat, but there is a hard lesson for them also if they will listen – Do Not Put Up Political Cowards
    So, Tea-Party PEOPLE, be careful. Just as in “silueta metalica” shooting, there are no points for downing the targets out of order, so take aim at the most important target first, then the second (Nov 2010) and then the third, and do not stop until they ALL fall over (targets just spinning around don’t count as a hit)

    • Well said, Paul. Astute and wise counsel to Conservatives/Tea Parties.
      Duplicitous inauthentic GOP types like Russo can hijack the Tea Party Express, but we are not stupid. We just need to be informed, to be wary and discerning, to stand firm in our insistence that the Republican Party be true to conservative principles.
      As for the 2009 race in New York’s precinct 23, I’m really not sure that Independent candidate Doug Hoffman actually lost. You are well informed, so you know that he conceded too early before all the votes were counted, including the independent-leaning mail-in ballots. Besides, RINO GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava quit precisely because she saw the polls showing Republicans and Independents abandoning her for Hoffman. So, I disagree with you that the lesson for conservatives in the NY-23 race is that we must never never go for a 3rd party but must stick to the GOP.
      That should NOT be a general principles. A 3rd party should be our tactical-strategic tool, to be wielded when need arises!

  2. we can’t allow them to do this to us!!! we need more grassroots work. things they can’t ignore. things corporations can’t hijack!


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