I normally don’t discuss the behind-the-scenes world of Tea Party organizing, but an email I received yesterday attacking an American I admire greatly compels me to respond.
I don’t often write about organizations besides the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition (SoCal-TRC) or Tea Party Patriots (TPP). Both of these organizations are NOT Political Action Committees (PACs) and take no donations from political parties. Both groups are issue focused, and tend not to promote specific candidates (preferring to leave that activity to local groups who know the individuals running in particular races), Other national Tea Party organizations are structured differently; frankly, as long as they are upfront with what they do and where donations go, I say the more the merrier.
Yet, not all Tea Party public figures seem content to others to contribute to the success of the movement and be acknowledged fairly for their herculean efforts. Some so-called “leaders” smear people who have sacrificed and given their all to promote real grassroots activism. For example, former Tea Party Express spokesman, Mark Williams, has recently targeted SoCal-TRC President Dawn Wildman and TPP National Coordinator Mark Meckler in vile rants. Many will recall that Williams resigned after the publication of a ill-conceived and poorly executed satire piece. I would like my readers to be fully informed regarding these situations, as I have had the pleasure of working with Wildman and Meckler closely in various events. Both are genuine heroes who have achieved enormous success promoting US Constitutional ideas, limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free market practices in California and across the country – with well over 2000 local citizen action groups as participating members.
My friend, Dawn, was called the “head of the Taliban Tea Party” by Williams when he guest hosted for Roger Hedgecock recently. Such an insult was baseless, repugnant, and ludicrous. When I heard this, it reminded me of something my dad would say when he was on one of his nasty, drunk rampages. And like my dad’s toxic tirades, it was just as evil and unneeded.
I have worked closely with Dawn since the inception of the Tea Party movement in February of 2009. I can tell you that Dawn takes the time to consider all points of view in a discussion related to Tea Party activities, and she has the experience to make the best decision under a given set of circumstances. She supplies enormous passion into her citizen activism efforts, and effectively promote causes that help California and the country. Instead of unfairly belittling her, Williams would have been far wiser to use Hedgecock’s golden microphone to promote and enhance the Tea Party messages shared by all nationwide groups.
This past week, there has been a snafu with the Tea Party Patriots organizer mail list. While this problem is still being sorted out, my info was directed to Mark Williams’ email list. Voila! I got one of his personal rants delivered into my inbox. In the interest of fairness, I decided to share it with other citizen activists – and counter various distortions and prevarications with a strong dose of reality.
MARK WILLIAMS’ EMAIL RANT:
There is an epic battle unfolding out of sight, and it is a good thing because a too high public profile would likely tear apart the Tea Party Movement. A small, selfish, self-interested cabal led by Mark Meckler is selling the Tea Party Patriots to a mystery “donor”. Under Mark Meckler the TPP has been grassroots only in the sense that the hard working and sincere patriots who ARE the TPP have labored and paid out of their own pockets to create a movement, while Mr. Meckler and his subordinate partner Jenny Beth Martin have enjoyed the Capitol Hill cocktail scene, schmoozed and gotten cozy with politicians of both sides of the Democrat-Republican establishment aligned against We the People. Along the way each of them have suddenly found that their formerly daunting personal financial issues have magically evaporated!
And big time were those woes. Mark had one failed business attempt after another and was a self-employed “Internet” lawyer facing having to move his entire family in with his parents (not good for a 40-something guy with wife, kids and an upscale McGeorge University education) when he stumbled on the first event in Sacramento, organized by Free Republic .com and emceed by Mark Williams. Nationally, Amy Kremer was coordinating dozens of events around the nation from her home in Atlanta. That is where bankrupt Jenny Beth Martin facing both a Chapter 7 and owing the IRS and State of Georgia in excess of 1/2 million dollars and no way to pay it off was brought into the movement by her then friend Amy Kremer.
Both Meckler and Martin were at first I believe only seeking to survive financially, we all were/are. Then the intoxicating aroma of being feted and toasted on Capitol Hill set in and they went native to the DC crowd. Now they claim immunity from question by their own members. It did not take long for Mark Meckler to join the Beltway crowd in using Obama like tactics against Tea Party in general now he is turning his guns on the Tea Party Patriots themselves!
Why should we not Demand the same transparency and openness from Mark Meckler that we are demanding from our government?! Isn’t closed door good ole boy politics EXACTLY what we are fighting … Who is the donor? For what purpose does “he” want the TPP? Why does Mark Meckler dodge all questions? Why are chapter leaders who ask attacked?
Lots of questions but no answers.
Follow the Tea Party Civil War here: http://www.marktalk.com/blog/?cat=3415
The claim that there is a “Tea Party” civil war are utterly laughable! While Williams may desire one to achieve some sort of radio talk show relevancy, real citizen activists are focused on the Nov. 2nd election and the numerous Tea Party events (like the 10-10-10 rally at the Oceanside Amphitheater that is being co-hosted by several Tea Party groups quite happy to team up with eachother).
Meckler is not taking TPP “private”. The donor, for reasons known only to the donor and a couple of key people who set up the donation, wish to be anonymous. Anonymous donations happen regularly – and it is quite a stretch of imagination to assume something nefarious about a donation that:
• Goes directly to citizen groups.
• Must be used to promote issues and not candidates.
• Must be distributed via a system of grants, in which the reasons the money is needed and the items required listed and priced.
• Must be used to achieve as much Tea Party success as possible by Nov. 2nd, the end date of the donation.
As a Democrat who has been following the Delaware Senate race closely, rooting for Christine O’Donnell, I find it fascinating that Williams has attacked Meckler on the issue of his Meckler’s personal finances – trying to paint Meckler as being “on the take”. Cocktail Party Republicans of the GOP establishment, all of whom supported Castle, also used stories of past personal finance challenges against O’Donnell. I think Williams’ misguided attack on Meckler reeks of establishment Republican thuggery – and Williams is the elite Beltway figure who has merely projected his own flaws onto a real American activist.
I am also highly suspicious that Williams has not completely lost all ties to the GOP-establishment connected Tea Party Express. TPE is spear-headed by Sal Russo – a strategist involved for decades with the establishment Republicans who are as troublesome as the Democrats in the elite Washington DC Cocktail Party corridor. I suspect that Beltway-establishment-based TPE would like TPP, a real grassroots organization representing the “Country Class,” to disappear. Hence, the attempts to undermine key TPP coordinators. Williams could be trying to force a “Tea Party Civil War” so that a more establishment-supporting team can hold sway.
This simply won’t work. Tea Party Patriot groups across the country are solely focused on achieving as much conservative success as possible in the Nov. 2nd election.
Addressing Meckler’s current state of finances: I am really not surprised that an Internet Lawyer is achieving a high degree of success in the Internet age, especially with new Internet developments on the horizon. I see no grand conspiracy.
I am not as familiar with Jenny Beth Martin. Martin has been kind enough to send me a complimentary email note on occasion. However, I can only assume the allegations Williams makes against her are as false as those against Wildman and Meckler. Actually, I hope to meet Martin one day, so I can thank her personally for her grace and energy in getting millions of Americans interested in participating in basic civics.
Reviewing Williams’ email note, I also wanted to note that there were actually a lot of people hosting/emceeing and otherwise involved with the first Tea Parties in February 2009. Interestingly, I had the pleasure of talking with Anne Hayes, one of the Northern California Tea Party Patriots, when I was speaking at the Sacramento Recycle Government Tea Party last month. She was also at the February 2009 event in Sacramento, where she met Meckler. Hayes has since gone onto be a key coordinator with Smart Girl Politics. Hayes recalled the day she and Meckler were standing out on the street, holding signs, and not ever imaging of going onto speak at an event attended by 5,000 engaged and informed citizens. Both she and Meckler have continued their service to their country in their own way, out of patriotism and civic interest.
So, Mark Williams – does Hayes owe her new success to you, too? Do both she and Meckler have to grovel at the altar of your corrosive punditry just because you managed to emcee one of the early Tea Parties? I think not.
Now, let me share my views of Amy Kremer, coordinator of the TPE who Williams mentions in his email. I was listening to Sean Hannity’s Radio Show during February 2009, as the first Tea Party rallies were being set up. Kremer called in – saying she was the “Tea Party Go To Girl”. Frankly, I was appalled at the hubris, as there were a lot of “go to” men and women organizing rallies in February 2009. It was quite obvious to me she was trying to be the “Face of the Tea Party” – which is counter to the way it has since developed, and is also counter to the way the establishment players like Williams would want. I would also like to note that TPE and Kremer were NOT initially included in a Glenn Beck roundtable of representatives from national-level Tea Party groups. After much aggressive negotiation by Kremer and TPE, Kremer as permitted to call in – at which time Beck berated TPE for Williams’ actions and presence in the group.
Reviewing Williams’ email, I also presume Williams is jealous of Meckler, who seems to be the biggest target in these tirades. Meckler is a real patriot, a kind family man, and one of the people I admire most in Tea Party activism. Mecker inspires, it seems Williams can only rant. Based on the internal email dialog that I am privy to, the only person Williams’ undermined in this effort was himself.
And, as if all of the above were NOT appalling enough…I learned Williams published Meckler’s home address on his internet site. Such a blatant act of harassment of a fellow citizen is simply disgusting — and as spineless and heartless as when leftists do it. I think that if you admire TPP’s efforts and support of limited government, fiscal sensibility, and free markets, Wildman, Mecker and Martin would really appreciate a few kind words of thanks and encouragement.
Dawn Wildman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Meckler: email@example.com
Jenny Beth Martin: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would strongly suggest that people who try to tear down fellow Tea Party organizers take that energy and direct to our opponents – that is where it serves us all better.