Dear Readers: During my involvement with the Tea Party Movement, I have been astonished how rapidly some people get carried away with the heady combination of media attention and new-found relevance. For example, recall that both Newt Gingrich and Michael Patrick Leahy attempted to insert themselves as the “face of the Tea Party”. Today, one of my new-found friends and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, Mark Mekler, informs me that another individual has self-appointed himself as the head of our grassroots efforts opposing big government and promoting capitalism and the US Constitution.
Before I go any farther, I would like to show you some of the REAL faces of the “Tea Party” Movement — at least as I see them.
The Magnificent Seven — seven Californians who went to Senator Barbara Boxer’s office to discuss, in detail, why they did not want any of the Administration’s health care proposals passed, while providing several free-market ideas for needed reform.
Bill Whittle is my vote for the designated hunk of the Tea Party movement (second only to my beloved Horemheb in cuteness and savvy). Bill does regular reports for PJTV, including those on the Tea Party events. (MUT Note: As I love history, I highly recommend Bill’s review of the media’s handling of the ACORN scandal — it deals with Hannibal, Rome and the battle of Cannae. Click HERE for the video)
SoCal-TRC’s Dawn Wildman and Sarah Bond are key “faces” — they take a lot of their personal time, individual energies, and unique talents to organize our local band of agitators. These two ladies are critical to the success of our local tax revolt events. Think “herding cats”, and you better understand the magnitude of their challenge (especially as they have had to cope with the local GOP machine, as described HERE and HERE).
Finally, the “face” includes all the people who attended the Sept. 12th March on Washington.
The only way the Tea Party succeeds is if we recognize that we depend upon eachother. As Benjamin Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence:
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
No one person or entity can truly represent the entire “Tea Party” movement. We rely on a combination of everyone’s talents, efforts, knowledge and experience. The moment a person thinks he or she is “the face” of the Tea Party, it is at that very moment they no longer are.
With that in mind, I want to share with my cherished readers the press release Mark Mekler of Tea Party Patriots issued. This information reviews behind-the-scenes struggles that directly impact the Tea Party efforts in California. It also highlights the Herculean efforts expended by the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition and Tea Party Patriots to keep our movement genuinely non-partisan and focused on the issues.
Tea Party Patriots IS NOT Associated with the Tea Party Express
This statement is being issued at the request of, and in the name of the Tea Party Patriots leadership across the state of California. The Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition has been working with Tea Party Patriots, and would like to inform interested parties of the following:
At the end of August, a political action committee called Our Country Deserves Better (“OCDB”) launched a bus tour to raise money for their PAC, and called it the Tea Party Express. The PAC has previously primarily raised money for Republican candidates. The real experience and political expertise behind the PAC is Russo, Marsh and Rogers, which is a political and media consulting firm out of Sacramento, California. Based on a review of its webpage, it’s easy to see that the firm primarily works for Republican candidates and causes (no Democrats are specifically listed on their website as of this statement; http://www.rmrwest.com/index.php/RMRWest/Experience/). While we have no problem with PACs and political and media consultants, we were concerned at the time that this organization was potentially using the tea party movement to further a partisan goal of raising money for Republicans. While we have no problem with any PAC doing so, we were concerned that they were just another organization who was attempting to jump on the tea party bandwagon to raise money for their own purposes. As you are no doubt aware, the Tea Party Patriots are a nationwide, non-partisan organization dedicated to the principles of fiscal responsibility, limited constitutional government and free markets. As an organization, we have worked hard to avoid even the appearance of partisanship, as we feel that the majority of politicians of both parties are to blame for our current state of affairs, and that our guiding principles appeal to Americans of all parties, not just Republicans.
While we were concerned about the actions of the Tea Party Express, and the fact that it was PAC based and tied to a firm that appears to consult primarily for Republican candidates, our initial approach was to simply sit back and let everyone co-exist within the tea party movement. The movement is made up of many groups, and our hope was that the Tea Party Express and it’s officers and spokespeople would be one more such group. However, the situation has now developed in such a way that we feel we must publicly distance the Tea Party Patriots from the Tea Party Express and OCDB.
On August 28, the Tea Party Patriots and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association hosted an event at the state capitol at which the Tea Party Express (“TPE”) team was present. There were many difficulties between the Tea Party Patriots and the TPE on that day. And without going into details, we can assure you it was a difficult situation for all concerned. But after the event was over, the Tea Party Patriot leaders from across the state who had organized the event made the decision to move on, and say nothing publicly about the difficulties between the organizations. Again, we believe that we all need to do our best to get along if the movement is to continue to thrive. Unfortunately, it seems that OCDB and the Tea Party Express folks don’t agree, and apparently, their National Spokesman, and Vice Chair was planning to do as much damage as possible to the Tea Party Patriots subsequent to the August 28 event.
On the morning of September 12, as the Tea Party Patriots began their historic march on Washington DC with many other groups, the Vice Chairman and National Spokesperson for OCDB, Mark Williams launched a blistering and completely false attack on the Tea Party Patriots through a blog post. Apparently timed to do maximum damage to the organization and the movement, among many other things, the blog post by Mark Williams alleged that the statewide tea party in Sacramento on August 28, organized by California Tea Party Patriots groups and their leaders from across the state was “astroturf,” and financed by government subsidized big business. It accused dedicated grassroots organizers of bussing in “non-English speaking, migrant farm workers” and providing them with pre-printed “astroturf” signs. Prior to posting his final post, Mr. Williams issued taunting emails indicating that he was about to make his post and that it was his intent to release his previously self “embargoed” story to media people traveling with him. When he received no response to his blog post or taunting, several days later he sent a second email to Tea Party Patriots leadership with the subject line “so sue me” and with the only text in the email being “I can’t wait to have you under oath.” Still, the leadership of the national and California organizations did not respond, hoping to work directly with OCDB behind the scenes to resolve difficulties and differences.
Unfortunately, at this time, we need to tell you that we have essentially been rebuffed in our efforts. The position of OCDB is essentially that while Mark Williams is indeed their national spokesperson, and the Vice Chair of their PAC, what he says on his blog is his personal business and has nothing to do with them. Yet Mr. Williams current notoriety is purely a function of his role as their spokesperson and Vice Chair, and as the currently self-appointed “Leader” of the Tea Party. And Mr. Williams history of controversial and questionable actions is not limited to his attack on TPP and its organizers. Recently Mr. Williams was seen on CNN, being laughed at by Anderson Cooper and James Carville for refusing to back down from his blog post calling President Obama an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug” and a “racist in chief.” That video clip has now been viewed by almost 300,000 people on YouTube. And on June 27, at the state capitol in Sacramento at a Tea Party Patriots Cap & Trade protest, Mark Williams was harassing law enforcement officers, and telling TPP’ers that they needed to get away before the police used their nightsticks to break open their heads. Mark had to be asked to move away from the police, and he ignored local Tea Party Patriots who were telling him that his actions were inappropriate. We received written apologies from both Mark Williams and from Joe Wierzbicki (Chief Strategist for OCDB and a principle in Russo, Marsh and Rogers) for Mr. Williams’ erratic, unprofessional behavior, and assurances that it wouldn’t happen again. Yet the behavior continues.
At the current time, OCDB, operating as the Tea Party Express has issued an announcement of a new bus tour. The tour starts in San Diego and heads up the state all the way to Redding, and then across the country. They are now looking for support from you, the very Tea Party Patriot organizers whom they insulted as “astroturf” and worse in regard to the August 28 event in Sacramento. For this tour, they want regular grassroots folks to cough up $250,000.00! Every day they send out another appeal for money. That’s a quarter of a million dollars to drive some buses across the country to tea parties that YOU organize. It’s an outrageous sum of money, and in our opinion, symbolic of the big money, big spending ways of the politicians of both parties in Sacramento and DC. Additionally, it is our belief that OCDB, the Tea Party Express, and their Vice Chairman and National Spokesman in no way represent any of us who are the grassroots of the tea party movement. The success of the tea party movement, and the Tea Party Patriots require that we are completely non-partisan. Yet the Tea Party Express exists to raise money for the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, which gives money to Republican candidates, and is supported by Russo, Marsh and Rogers, who according to their website, run many notable Republican campaigns. Again, while we have no problem with partisan PACs or other organizations, the tea parties themselves are inherently and importantly non-partisan. We feel it is important that they remain so. Having unsuccessfully tried to deal with the issues quietly and behind the scenes, now we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of having to publicly distance ourselves from Our Country Deserves Better, The Tea Party Express and their Vice Chair and National Spokesperson, Mark Williams.
This statement is issued after consultation with many of the leaders of Tea Party Patriots organizations across California, who uniformly requested that we issue a statement distancing ourselves from Our Country Deserves Better, the Tea Party Express and specifically Mark Williams. While we absolutely do not claim to represent all tea partiers across California, many of the grassroots tea partiers of California are standing up and saying that we won’t allow someone like Mark Williams to represent the tea party movement, and we won’t allow the movement to be co-opted for partisan political purposes. In order to continue to succeed, we must protect our movement from this type of hijacking. For this reason, we are recommending that Tea Party Patriots simply stay away from the Tea Party Express. We certainly don’t pretend to have the power to prohibit anyone from attending, and we would never issue such an edict. Tea parties around the state are ultimately independent entities made up of independent citizens. However, those of us sending this statement believe that people and organizations should not be allowed to use the power of the tea party movement to promote their own agendas, or for partisan purposes. Ultimately, allowing people who issue slurs and disrespect law enforcement, and organizations that support them to profit in a partisan manner from the tea parties plays into the hands of those who seek our defeat.
We believe this is a decisive moment for the movement. In order to continue to succeed, we must decide who we are and who we are not. Every individual, and every tea party organization must make its own decisions. In California, many of the organizers of the Tea Party Patriots statewide believe that we are a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots movement dedicated to the promotion of fiscal responsibility, limited constitutional governments and free markets. We believe that we are not, and can not voluntarily associate with individuals who claim to be “Tea Party Leaders” and who denigrate the President with slurs such as “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug” and “racist in chief.” We believe that we are not a partisan PAC that uses the tea party movement to raise money for its own purposes, and stands behind a National Spokesperson who likes to create political controversy by occasionally slurring the President or verbally abusing law enforcement officers. We believe that in order to succeed as a movement, we must abide by basic standards of decency and respect. We believe that we are not here to denigrate others, but instead to lift up a nation and help to return it to its roots. We are the individuals and local organizations sending out this notice. There may be local tea party organizations who disagree with us. And we respect that they may have different opinions and take a different course. But we are all still fighting the same fight.
We apologize for having to air a situation like this, and wish that the matter could have been handled behind closed doors. You can rest assured that we tried that. But if we won’t stand up to people who appear to be attempting to use the movement for partisan purposes, and to separate ourselves from self-appointed spokesmen who are damaging the movement with their public conduct, we believe we won’t last for long. We believe we must stick to our principles, no matter how difficult or painful it may be.
California Tea Party Patriots Organizers from Across the State