Tea Party grassroots continue to be shorn by profiteers like Sarah Palin and ‘Tea Party Nation’ owner Judson Phillips

sarah palinGrassroots activists or sheep to the slaughter? No one seems to know for sure, and very few seem to care.

So thoroughly cowed by corporate interests are right-wingers that they might think it’s a good thing, donating their time and their hard-earned pay to rich political interests. America!

I posted earlier on the ‘Tea Party Express’: a group who collected over a million dollars worth of teabaggers’ money only to hand two-thirds of it to the Republican consulting firm — Russo, Marsh and Associates — that created it.

That created howls of protest from the ‘Tea Party Patriots’. But, earlier, the TPPs were wrenched by their own factious squabbling after criticism over their fiscal goings-on.

“Why are the financial records not public knowledge?” [Merits] asked. “Show me the money!”

Eventually a Tea Party Patriots loyalist couldn’t take it anymore. “Why are you intentionally trying to destroy this movement??” he demanded.

And so it continues. Conservative blogger Melissa Clouthier has an expose on the ‘hot’ tea party organization, ‘Tea Party Nation’. They’re the ones who scored Sarah Palin giving the keynote address at their February 4-6 convention.

She blew off the larger, far more prestigious Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in favor of the ‘Tea Party Nation’ convention, giving the movement some cache. All it cost TPN were Palin’s fee and expenses, around $125,000. Apparently, the venerated CPAC doesn’t operate by paying its speakers six-figure sums.

But the coup did excite the TPN people. Their scheduled venue, the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, was too small for a Palin sighting. We should move it, right?

Well, these decisions come down to only person. Because it turns out the ‘Tea Party Nation’ is Tea Party Nation, INC., a company with a single owner. And Judson Phillips wasn’t having any of that ‘move it’ talk, he had bigger plans.

Excited organizers found out October 22 that Sarah Palin had chosen to speak to the party. During the meeting, local activists urged Phillips to change the venue so more people could attend as the space was so limited at Opryland. At that point in November, he had 60 days to change the venue but was afraid if he changed it, Palin wouldn’t come speak to the gathering, says one person familiar with the meeting.

tea party nation

When Judson Phillips suggested the $550 convention fee, some members were so aghast they got up and left the meeting.

At one point, fisticuffs nearly broke out, emotions ran so high. Those who had been in the bottom-up organization felt betrayed because the event excluded so many average people and many of the volunteers themselves couldn’t even afford to attend. Philips and his few supporters saw an opportunity to make money.

This meeting prompted many long-time Tea Party members to quit…

The decision was made to keep the conference, small, expensive and exclusive.

Phillips’ intentions were abundantly clear to the people familiar with TPN:

Tami Killmarx said that she heard Phillips say more than once, “I want to make a million from this movement.”

Killmarx wasn’t the only volunteer who suspected Phillips intentions were to gain personally. Jerry Williams who ran security for the Tea Party Nation gatherings from the groups inception until August when he resigned, and was slated to handle security at the February 2010 convention, said, “We have a situation that’s like a natural disaster. [Likening the American political climate to a disaster.] You’ve always got people out there who want to make a buck on it. This is the same thing. There’s people out there who want to jump on this Tea Party thing for their own interests. They’re not really worried about the country or the people.”

Phillips fired Killmarx. And some others. Virtually anybody who questions Phillips and his motives gets the axe. One firing:

Due to the events of last Saturday and your indiscretion in relation to the National Tea Party Convention, it is apparent that your loyalties and interests are not compatible with those of Tea Party Nation. It is for this reason I am requesting your resignation from the TPN Advisory Board. I will give you 24 hours to remove yourself from the group before I remove it myself.

Another ends this way:

Further, you will cease and desist from any defamatory statements against myself, or any member of the tea party nation board. You will cease and desist from any attempt to interfere with the National Tea Party Convention or the Sarah Palin appearance…

You will issue an immediate retraction and apology or you will be defending a law suit for fraud, defamation, intentional interference with a business relationship and malpractice. As you consider this, remember what I do for a living.

Judson PHillips
Tea Party Nation, INC.

Phillips is a lawyer, ooh. Nevertheless, risking nasty correspondence from someone who can’t recall what he does for a living, some people are finally speaking up:

Says one original sponsor still deciding whether to stay involved,”This is not the event we signed on to in the beginning.”

sold out convention2The American Liberty Alliance, lead by Eric Odom, announced last week that his group was withdrawing support and would not attend.

Anthony Shreeve, another Steering Committee Member paints the controversy in stark terms,”It’s like a cancer. It’s like it’s consumed Tennessee.”

And Killmarx, again:

At every step of the way Judson is trying to poison the waters. He has ruined this for us. This is not “the movement” in Tennessee. People are fighting hard for our country. We are worn out. We have wanted to come out for months [to expose Phillips]. We are trying to salvage this movement. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman need to know what this is. It’s a ruse. Let everyone come and hear Sarah Palin. Un uh, they wanted to make money. They wanted get in bed with the GOP. They don’t want to make it so that everyone can hear Sarah Palin. We wanted to hear her. We wanted to hear someone who believed in us. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman need to understand where they’re coming.

I was in D.C. on 9/12. These weren’t elitist rich people. There were no “activists” there. I don’t have anything to gain to turn Judson in. I have fought too hard for this thing, to see the elderly people pouring out in droves and then be left out now.

Judson Philips stands to make thousands while we are outside the door knocking.

Such is the current state of the Tea Party movement. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin keeps doing her thing:

in touch cover

She got a hundred grand for the interview.

ADD: Tea Party supporter and blogger Kevin Smith has a first-hand account of working with Judson Phillips on Tea Party Nation issues. Smith quit because of Phillips’ behavior.

In a second post, he writes of this Alan Colmes clip:

“It’s confirmed: Judson Phillips gives the worst interviews ever.” He’s right:


2 thoughts Tea Party grassroots continue to be shorn by profiteers like Sarah Palin and ‘Tea Party Nation’ owner Judson Phillips

  1. avatar Charles says:

    This movement has never been grassroots, and has always been controlled by the very type of people they claim to demonize.

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