On July 4th 2009 I went to my first Tea Party rally in Huntington New York. Petitions were passed around to audit the Federal Reserve, we chanted "Stop Printing Money", and a host of things which seemed to be a condemnation not only of the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress, but of how things were going overall. That rally was organized by Campaign for Liberty.
A number of different groups came together at numerous events to form what could be collectively known as the "Tea Party Movement" here in Suffolk County, NY. In the beginning we were all united with the message of "Hands off Health Care" and "No Cap & Trade", we talked about the Constitution, an overall out of control government, and how both parties had been selling us down the river for years, but as time went on, telling differences became evident and divisions occured.
Cause for Concern
For example, when NY State Health Commissioner Richard Daines ordered that all health care workers be vaccinated for H1N1 or risk losing their jobs, a non-partisan issue strictly about human rights. Campaign for Liberty, The Libertarian Party, and the Constitution Party protested all over the state, but despite numerous attempts to reach out to the 9/12 Project and Conservative Society for Action, our tea party brethren were nowhere to be found.
When the Republican and Democratic parties, along with their parasite party allies, all cross endorsed the same incumbent candidates for Sheriff, District Attorney, and Treasurer. The Libertarian Party ran candidates against them, no help from our tea party brethren there, and no outrage when our votes were not counted.
When Scott Brown, gun control advocate and architect of Romney Care ran for Senate in Massachusetts, that was pretty much the last straw. The Liberty groups support of Libertarian Joe Kennedy was drowned out by the outpouring of support for Scott Brown from the other groups at the direction of their leadership, and it became obvious the goals of those organizations had nothing to do with Freedom, only the Republican Party, and maybe lower taxes.
Attacks had always been coming from the left, and like so many others, I ignored it as just that, leftist attacks. But after the above mentioned cases and some other things, I decided to do some research, and what I found out was rather disturbing.
In The Beginning
The idea for tea parties started in 2007 with the Ron Paul for President Campaign, which I today wish I had been more aware of back then. Supporters in some areas wrote things like Federal Reserve, Iraq War, War on Drugs, and IRS on boxes and threw them or crushed them in protest, while raising $6 Million for the Champion of the Constitution to run for President in 2008. It was Libertarian in nature, it stood for a non-interventionist foreign policy, it stood for individual liberty, and a whole lot of other things that I will sum up to say "It meant something". (Source click here)
Things were quiet for awhile, before the Libertarian Party of Indiana decided to organize their 2009 Chicago Tax Day Tea party in December of 2008, and created a Facebook group for it on Feb. 10, 2009. Nine days later, CNBC's Rick Santelli, broadcasting from the floor of the Chicago stock exchange, popularized the concept. (Source click here)
So the movement was begun and the Republican Establishment got to work taking it over, immediately, and quite possibly, before. There are at least three major national groups that are controlled by the Republican Establishment, at least two of them sponsor splinter organizations to make them appear decentralized.
Follow the Money
Tea Party Express is run by a PAC called Our Country Deserves Better, incorporated in August of 2008 it has gotten the most attention from Fox News, which shouldn't be surprising since they gave Fox Business more than a quarter of a million dollars. They have raised more than $2,000,000, and among other irresponsible uses of donor money, spent $1,597.29 on dinner last summer for 6 members.
The officers of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC overlap extensively with current and former leaders of the pro-war organization Move America Forward (MAF) which ran PR campaigns and bus tours in support of the Iraq War during the Bush administration. These include MAF co-founder and former chair Howard Kaloogian, who chairs the PAC, and also served as Assistant Republican Leader in the California State Assembly; PR executive Sal Russo, who serves as chief strategist for both MAF and the PAC, and got his start in politics by working as a Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan. Mr. Russo has spent over 30 years in the field of political consulting and public affairs. He has been a senior adviser to several Republican presidential campaigns; Russo Marsh & Rogers principal Joe Wierzbicki, who serves as grassroots coordinator for MAF and coordinates the PAC, has worked for dozens of Republican campaigns; and Marine mom Deborah Johns, who is MAF's director of military relations and the PAC's spokesperson.