Reps Bachmann, Blackburn Back Out of ‘Scammy’ Tea Party Convention
January 28, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-Well, things don’t look good for the first ever Tea Party Convention, scheduled to take place in Nashville next week. Amid complaints of high ticket prices, the for-profit status of the organizing group Tea Party Nation and questions about whose pockets any profits would end up in, Reps. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) announced on Thursday that they would not be attending. Both lawmakers sought the advice of the House Ethics Committee and received enough “conflicting advice” to make them reconsider speaking at the event. Sarah Palin is still scheduled to speak at the convention for a reported speaking fee of about $100,000.
In recent days, critics of the organizer of the convention for teapartiers, Judson Phillips, “a self-described ‘small town lawyer’ with a history of financial problems,” have raised questions about his for-profit model.
Bachmann told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
“We’re out. It comes down to conflicting advice as to how these profits are going to be used after the fact. We’d rather err on the side of caution than do it and find out it’s improper… with somebody saying ‘they’re using the money from an event you were at to support this and this,’ which comes as a direct conflict with what you’re doing as a member of Congress.”
And Blackburn told the Nashville Post:
“I spoke to Judson Phillips this morning and let him know that I could not participate in the convention. I told him frankly that Tea Party Nation’s for-profit status has put many of his speakers in an awkward position. I remain encouraged by the outpouring of energy from constitutionally minded grassroots organizations in Tennessee and around America. These groups are not made up of Republicans or Democrats but everyday Americans who are concerned about their freedom. They know that out-of-control spending and the expansion of government ultimately limits that freedom. I share their concerns and look forward to working with them in the future.”
Erick Erickson of the right-wing blog RedState got the ball rolling with conservative criticism, when he wrote that the convention “smells scammy.”