A Statement on the Tea Party Express
Edit: National Tea Party Patriot’s statement http://freedomswings.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/tea-party-patriots-are-truly-grassroots-and-non-partisan/
Houston Tea Party Society does not promote, support, or endorse the activities of the “Our Country Deserves Better” PAC and its “Tea Party Express” bus tour. We are not alone, as a growing number of Tea Party organizers in the country are disclaiming any association with TPE. Our legal counselors have advised us that there are many legal intricacies involved in cooperating with such an organization, and HTPS prefers to err on the side of caution. HTPS does not agree with their tactics and does not feel that Tea Party Express shares our grassroots opinions. Several groups have even started describing it as “The Astroturf Express”.
The first TPE tour spawned stories of negative experiences from their Grassroots Tea Party partners. When HTPS learned the Tea Party Express would be coming to Houston, we met with the other Grassroots tea party organizations in the area to discuss it. The groups unanimously decided that a TPE tour stop could not be supported by any of them. Organizers in Austin shared this opinion, and HTPS and the Austin Tea Party contacted Deborah Johns of Our Country Deserves Better asking them to not include these cities in their tour. Our Country Deserves Better then showed their feelings for the Grassroots by insisting on coming anyway, despite the pleas of the local organizers.
The TPE represents itself as a grassroots political organization, but a quick look into their history and activities shows where OCDB PAC has spent its resources. Local organizers have been consistent in attempting to avoid partisan “party politics as usual” and local tea party donations have gone to events and local activist infrastructure.
The Tea Party Express raises money for the “Our Country Deserves Better” PAC, which gives those funds to political campaigns. When asked, OCDB PAC will not disclose for whom they are raising funds, and merely states it is “to be decided.” HTPS and our local and state allies do not believe Tea Parties are meant to be fundraisers for PACs and politicians. Not all people attending an HTPS event are Republicans, and HTPS strives to be inclusive of those who agree with the tea party principles, regardless of party affiliation.
Another issue surrounding OCDB PAC are the bus-riders themselves. Some personalities on the bus have viciously clashed with grassroots organizers, made exceedingly childish and offensive public statements about others, and savaged grassroots organizers over the internet. HTPS considers people with that temperament unfit to credibly represent the movement.
We realize the Tea Party Express brings media attention and excitement to the areas it visits. It also brings headaches and frustrations HTPS and our partner organizations do not need. We cannot support a PAC that uses the “Tea Party” brand for these partisan activities, nor endorse an event put on by people who refuse to listen to the grassroots organizers. OCDB PAC does not support or respect the grassroots tea party groups; more than anything, HTPS believes that speaks volumes about their real commitment to tea party principles.
Houston Tea Party Society
http://www.socaltaxrevoltcoalition.org/3.html down at “WHY SOCALTRC WILL NOT SUPPORT THE TEA PARTY EXPRESS:”
http://www.centralvalleyteaparty.com/index.php?id=206 Central Valley’s statement
http://www.reddingteaparty.com/notes/Tea_Party_Express Redding California’s Statement (requires registration)
http://templeofmut.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/tea-party-express-is-not-the-face-of-the-tea-party-either/ California State Statement
http://philrusso.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/the-tea-party-express-fruad/ Orlando Tea Party
Additionally, the state Tea Party Patriots is about to release a statement as well and we will link to it when available, as well as additional links.
EDITED TO ADD TPE financial reports: