Posted by: Ann Corcoran | February 29, 2012

Tea Party Patriots: Internal rift reported over too close linkage to Republicans

It was just a matter of time.   I remember watching Glenn Beck one evening (it might have been as long ago as 2010) and there was much ballyhooing over the fact that Tea Party Patriot organizers had come into money.   Well, apparently since then the group has come into LOTS of money!

I also wondered at the time, where the money would be used because you sure didn’t see it trickling down to the small local grassroots groups that were doing the meeting and the rallying (and ultimately the campaigning to change Congress in 2010).

Now comes news, hat tip: Doug, that a big chunk of change was spent putting on that Republican debate in South Carolina.

From The Daily Caller:

Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler told The Daily Caller that he resigned his leadership position with the grassroots organization last week out of frustration with how money is being spent and how closely the group has aligned itself with Republicans.

Tea Party Patriots (TPP) officials say they’re a coalition of more than 3,400 local tea party groups made up of more than 15 million members.

In an interview, Meckler — a well-known figure in the movement — cited, as an example, how Tea Party Patriots spent $250,000 to sponsor the Southern Republican Leadership Conference presidential debate in South Carolina this year.

“That bothered me on a lot of levels,” he said.

In an email obtained by TheDC, Meckler told the group’s board of directors last week that the expenditure was “a colossal waste, which served to foster the narrative that TPP is a tool of the Republican Party, while providing minimal [public relations] value at best.”

Now I don’t know Meckler or Martin.   I am sure they each have their loyal supporters and their critics.  However, most Tea Partiers are doing their own things in their own communities completely separate from what all those jockeying for the “leadership” of the movement are doing.   TPP may just be having the usual internal conflicts and the growing pains of any movement.

But, honestly, I have been suspicious of the motives of many of the groups that have big bucks—I raged about it here in December.  Who is giving them big bucks and why?  The only logical conclusion I’ve come to is that whoever has that kind of money wants to steer the movement.

In the past I’ve likened the Tea Party phenomenon to a grassroots folks-filled train coming down the tracks, but with all sorts of people and groups (probably establishment Republicans! among others) vying to be recognized as the engine driving the train (Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity are two examples of groups that would like to be the engineers and drive that powerful train).

Again, I don’t know Meckler, but I definitely agree with what he says as he leaves the organization:

He also made the case that $250,000 could have been better spent to further the tea party cause.

“I can’t even describe to you how much good that amount of money can do on the ground across the country,” Meckler said, suggesting that giving 25 local tea parties $10,000 would have been a better use of those funds.


Meckler said the group has raised millions since its founding, and yet “very little of that money flows through to local chapters.”

From the outset, I’ve liked the idea that the movement is leaderless, that local groups can work in their own communities to change things from the ground up (as it should be!), but I wouldn’t be averse now to some decent strong person with the leadership skills to begin to pull the various threads together—separate from the Republican Party.


  1. I tend to agree, because the TEA Party has a broad set of aims and actually may work better outside of the normal political process.

    While it wasn’t known as such then, I would have to say that my intention upon joining the local/state Republican apparatus was to push many of the ideas eventually adopted as the TEA Party principles – fiscal conservatism and limited government. At the time, I was growing more and more diametrically opposed to the “compassionate conservatism” (read: big government) in vogue. I thought NCLB and Medicare Part D were bad ideas.

    (Bear in mind I came on in 2006, when the party was still somewhat enamored with George W. Bush.)

    But that’s not to say I would want to see Republicans be exclusive to the TEA Party, because there’s a lot of Reagan Democrats who stay loyal to that party yet also believe in TEA Party principles. They also need to build their party from within, with the idea becoming one of having the inverse of what we are saddled with today – instead of the “establishment” GOP being content to drift more slowly toward statism than their “opponents” on the left, I would love to see the Democrats be content with limiting government more slowly than the Republicans are willing to do.

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