Skip to comments.How the Tea Party became as corrupt as the Beltway it loathes
Posted on 08/07/2014 2:26:34 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
This week, ProPublica released a report on the financial (and moral) corruption of a Tea Party group operating under the name Move America Forward, which was founded by one Sal Russo. Russo also helped start the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, aka the Tea Party Express. Move America Forward has run fake drives to give care packages to troops, stolen images of other charitable campaigns and passed them off as its own, and trumpeted a nonexistent partnership with Walter Reed Hospital all while funneling very real millions to itself. The group is an industry leader at taking your Tea Party sentiments (if you have them) and turning them into profits.
Unfortunately, the continuing success of Sal Russo and the Tea Party Express is emblematic of a larger failure of the American right and perhaps the larger project of American self-governance.
Earlier this year, The Daily Caller's Alexis Levinson reported that other Tea Party groups that had raised millions spent up to 80 percent of their money on operating expenditures, salaries, consultants, and mailing list companies, which were often owned by the people who ran the groups themselves. The Tea Party is essentially a landlord class; its fiefdom is the truly felt convictions of others.
There is nothing new about this. The Tea Party gained traction in an environment defined by massive resentment and fear directed at the Obama presidency, disgust at the bailouts of the Bush and Obama eras, and the wreckage of a Republican electoral defeat, all of which was especially conducive to the growth of parasite groups like the Tea Party Express.
In February of 2010, I reported a story from a "Tea Party Convention" in Nashville, hosted by the for-profit group Tea Party Nation. Leader Juddson Phillips left his job as a lawyer to draw a salary. Tickets for this grassroots uprising cost more than $500. The great motive behind it was transforming the organizers into richer men and political kingmakers in their state.
This gross profiteering is not unique to right-wingers. Political consultants do hilariously weird things. John Weaver, a consultant who advises prominent Republican candidates to enact his own distaste for conservatives, pulled an all-timer when he convinced his candidate's campaign to pay him, partly, through a corporation that shared the exact same name as that of another consultant's business. That helped to hide how well he was doing until it didn't.
People who give themselves to full-time political activism deserve some recompense for their work and expertise. And of course, even the most populist of political movements will attract, and even require, professional leadership from without. After all, even punk rock bands require "the suits" to handle business and arrange for the to-be-destroyed hotel room. Even St. Paul demanded payment for his services.
But there was something especially galling about the level of self-dealing enrichment and deception at the head of the Tea Party movement, particularly because the movement started as a disgusted response to the self-dealing enrichment and deception in Washington.
Profiteering has been an acute problem almost right from the beginning for the Tea Party. It is like the reverse mortgage industry of politics: making money by giving an awful deal to an older, whiter customer base, then leaving town just as the fools realize it leaves them with nothing.
It's easy to write them off as just another bunch of opportunists. But the endemic corruption of this movement should trouble the American right, if not the American conscience. The conservative diagnosis of Washington's brokenness is that Americans have outsourced the task of self-government to a managerial class in Washington, a corruption that has transformed our nation's capital into "the Beltway," a shorthand for D.C.'s toxic culture of cronyism.
The populist right's instinctive response the Tea Party immediately became just another added layer of cronyism. A grassroots corruption. Really, a weed. If the American people have outsourced their self-government to Washington, the conservative movement made another dirty deal, allowing itself to be entertained in outrage carnivals run by for-profit activists. Excepting the exceptions, the populist right's response to dishonesty and graft was to generate another set of swindlers who wear flag-lapel pins, lie to their faces, and help themselves to the cash.
Yes, we built that. And H.L. Mencken laughs. Self-government is just another product, and no one can be bothered to read the fine print.
Some folks just don’t get it, do they?
ProPublica is full ogf leftoidst B/S!
I’m always interested in what denizens of Manhattan’s upper east side think about the Tea Party.
There is no Tea Party, just groups of concerned citizens who agree on certain basic principles. Each group does its own thing. There is no organizational hierarchy.
If true, did they hire trolls to troll FR and other conservative sites to slander and malign any Republican?
Opportunists never miss a chance.
Let’s hope they don’t get it anytime soon.
It’ll give us more time to prevail.
What a simple doosh this writer is.
Pure projection, if you ask me.
I’m sure the eGop powers that be sent him a nice little gift for this hit piece.. a big chunk of dung.
There’s a difference between con men horning in on the action to rip off money on the one hand, and the buying and selling of influence that goes on in more Establishment circles on the other, though.
We need a comprehensive critique of these groups by someone we can trust and then let us find out what the real truth is.
I attended a Tea Party Express Rally a few years ago. I gave them money, but I was uneasy about them. It had the feeling of a circus side show.
Considering that they are sitting on America's biggest bullseye for foreign wannanuke terrorists and dictators, they ought to worry more about the consequences of believing their own drivel.
Jimmy Carter really hosed us when he gave away the Panama Canal (the Chinese now run it, as invisibly as possible), but New Yorkers are giving away Manhattan to all those Paki and Somali cab drivers. "Victory mosque", indeed. And Noo Yokkers are worried about us?
What’s brown and looks like a stick?
Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.