A leadership purge in the tea party movement

Last week, the Tea Party Patriots celebrated the third anniversary of the movement in a style familiar to revolutionists everywhere.

It conducted a purge.

Day-to-day control of the influential grassroots organization, according to the co-founder who says he was shoved to the side, is now in the hands of Jenny Beth Martin. She is a Cherokee County resident who – as the tea party movement began – had been reduced to cleaning her neighbors’ houses to earn money for her family.

The event, if not the outcome, was entirely predictable. Every world-stirring revolt — whether led by Washington, Napoleon or Mao — has had to wrestle with the same problem: How to stoke the idealistic fervor of a movement while adapting to the practical facts on the ground.

In the case of Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest such groups in the nation, the details remain scarce. Efforts to contact Martin have been unsuccessful. Most of the information comes from an email sent by TPP co-founder Mark Meckler to tea party followers in Georgia and across the country.

Meckler and Martin met in those heady days after CNBC reporter Rick Santelli’s famous rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Feb. 19, 2009. She was a political activist in metro Atlanta. He was a lawyer in Sacramento.

They were just “two ordinary Americans who happened to have been around at the beginning,” Meckler wrote in a just-published book that he and Martin wrote. Together.

“Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution,” (Henry Holt and Co., $25) hit the book stores on Valentines Day. The first sign of trouble between the co-authoring co-founders appeared the next day.

In a joint interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, both expressed disgust at the House Republican acquiescence to an extension of the federal payroll tax break. The topic then shifted to the GOP presidential field. “Nobody is satisfied with the candidates out there right now. They’re all losers,” Martin said. Meckler just flashed a nervous smile.

Afterward, Meckler said he should have spoken up in disagreement, and declared himself “stunned” by his partner’s remarks. Martin later declared that she simply meant that she was “sick of the games in D.C. and sick of the posturing on behalf of the GOP as well as the Democrats.”

But a larger conflict apparently has its roots in the Tea Party Patriot’s biggest success – the House Republican takeover in 2010 and the ouster of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“[A]s we have raised more and more money, now into the many millions of dollars, only a very small and insignificant portion of those funds are directed to grassroots on the ground,” Meckler wrote in a resignation letter distributed to tea party groups. (A spokeswoman for Meckler confirmed the letter’s authenticity.)

“I have repeatedly expressed, over a long period of time, my discomfort with the way the financial affairs of TPP have been handled, and that I believe that TPP is fiscally irresponsible in the way that it spends and manages donor monies,” wrote Meckler – who held the position of treasurer within the organization.

He pointed specifically to $250,000 spent to sponsor a South Carolina debate of the GOP presidential candidates aired by CNN. The money “could have done an enormous amount of good if it had been distributed to local tea parties to help them with their ground games in 2012,” he declared.

“Instead, it was a colossal waste, which served to foster the narrative that TPP is a tool of the Republican party, while providing minimal PR value at best,” Meckler wrote.

In addition, the co-founder of the tea party organization pointed to the recent hiring of “former professional lobbyist” and Republican campaign operative Scott Crockett as one of its top executives. There is more than a hint of worry that the group Meckler helped build is on its way to becoming a mirror image of the politics-as-usual that the tea party movement has protested against.

Meckler said the governing board of Tea Party Patriots handed the reins to Martin back in November, after a “protracted” struggle. Meckler’s December arrest at LaGuardia Airport in New York, for the unlicensed possession of a handgun, probably didn’t help his case. (Meckler pleaded guilty in January to a non-criminal violation — the firearm was licensed in California, but not New York.)

Says the notice on the Tea Party Patriots’ website: “Mark Meckler’s resignation as an employee and from the Tea Party Patriots board follows months of discussions and good-faith differences on how best TPP can serve the Tea Party movement.”

Though there was no mention of it, it is safe to assume that the remainder of the book tour has been cancelled.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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35 comments Add your comment


February 29th, 2012
6:41 pm

This news makes me want to puke.

Jerome Horwitz

February 29th, 2012
7:06 pm

Nice to see them implode.


February 29th, 2012
7:11 pm

I would have thought that they would have accomplished something. Rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship makes one feel they are at least doing something; I guess it helps pass the time.


February 29th, 2012
7:36 pm

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah, may they die a slow and painful death

William Smith

February 29th, 2012
7:36 pm

The tea party was to become the modern version of the original tea party. It was to change our system and return power back to the people as our founding fathers envisioned. They are no more than a wing of the Republican party whose goals is to shift all power to an elite few. It seems strange that the Koch Brothers and others now control this party. If they had been around at the original tea party they would been thrown into Boston harbor with the tea. Thank God maybe they will disappear to be heard of no more.


February 29th, 2012
7:38 pm

Night of the Long Knives….lol….how fitting.


February 29th, 2012
7:43 pm

The TEA PARTY was created in the boardrooms of the assembled TOBACCO RACKETEER mafia convicted in federal court with trial evidences posted online by federal judges orders. The Koch-created CITIZENS FOR A SOUND ECONOMY first appears in the tobacco trial evidence archives in 1985 within one year of being created. Continuous trials of “Tea Party” tax protests were trialed. In August 2001 there was a “Tar Heels Tea Party” throwing tea bags around and making a ruckus in the North Carolina state capital, with numerous newspaper article links found in the google news archives. From 2002-2005 the CSE website mirrored the domain USTEAPARTY.COM.

See links to facts at http://teapy.blogspot.com.


Statements about 3-year anniversary are pure propaganda and falsehood circulated by people without the slightest interest in fact checking the Tea Party sources.


February 29th, 2012
7:56 pm

Rick Santelli? Tea Party? Fading away.


February 29th, 2012
8:05 pm

More of a media event than anything. The TEA party is alive and well. Both the House and the Senate will fully understand just how strong it is the day after election day.


February 29th, 2012
8:12 pm

When you have a group of dimwitted folks trying to run a show what did you think was going to happen. These pilgims were useless stool pigeons, just like the SA were during the heady days of the Nazis, then came the “Night of the Long Knives” and poof those poor SA sheep like Rhom and others were gone. I mean let’s get real, you didn’t think the Koch Klan was going to continue to let these toothless hillbillies run amok, did you?

Just Wait

February 29th, 2012
8:13 pm

Nothing more than a group of self-righteous blow hards who think they know everything about government. The sooner the funeral, the better.

Buckhead Boy

February 29th, 2012
8:22 pm

A woman who filed for bankruptcy, and had and may still have tax liabilities to the IRS and State, now runs an organization that refuses to disclose its expenses to donors and affiliates. That kind of “revolution” is just revolting.

Rodney Dangerfield

February 29th, 2012
8:33 pm

Now I know why Tigers eat thier young.


February 29th, 2012
8:39 pm

The Revolution will take a bit longer……


February 29th, 2012
8:51 pm

Centrist is correct. After the election, we’ll all see how toothless the tea party is.


February 29th, 2012
8:52 pm

Ah man. Getting your name on the marquee ain’t good for your health. Overwrought individuals on both sides ought to just cool it.


February 29th, 2012
8:59 pm

REALITY triumphs again!!! People can hide behind their idealistic and ideologial B-S until the end of time, the crooks and the crooked always rise to devour the operation and the message disguised as “pure”. Human greed and thirst for power trumps everything else always. Happy landings once the bottom completely falls out. Saps!!! Your soapbox can be turned in at your nearest recycler.

Travis McGee

February 29th, 2012
9:14 pm

The Tea Party movement, financed by the Koch Brothers and orchestrated by Dick Armey and Co., is like Donald Trump. They’re all about self-promotion and have a propensity to take credit for things they had absolutley nothing to do with.

They will end up a brief footnote to history. Tea Party: R. I. P.


February 29th, 2012
9:19 pm

This is from New York “Daily News” dated Friday, November 4,1949. This is what the tea party is against and the Obama administration and the Democratic party still stands for today.


Father, must I go to work?
No, my lucky son.
We’re living now on Easy Street
On dough from Washington

We’ve left it up to Uncle Sam
so don’t get exercised.
Nobody has to give a damn
We’ve all been subsidized.

But if Sam treats us all so well
And feeds us milk and honey,
Please, daddy, tell me what the hell
He’s going to use for money.

Don’t worry, bub, there’s not a hitch
In this here noble plan
He simply soaks the filthy rich
And helps the common man.

But, father, won’t there come a time
When they run out of cash
And we have left them not a dime
When things will go to smash?

My faith in you is shrinking, son,
You nosy little brat;
You do too damn much thinking, son,
To be a Democrat.


February 29th, 2012
9:30 pm

td, Once again throwing poo-poo against the wall and it just won’t stick, except what bounces back in your face. You and this goober headed org deserve each other. Subject change is not your forte son, when no one reads what you write.

hiram bronson granbury

February 29th, 2012
9:43 pm

The tea party is Karl Rove’s creation. The man, a self professed atheist, recognized the voting potential of the hundreds of thousands of easily swayed, unsophisticated litte church congregations scattered around the country. He was able to recruit them for W by using the usual wedge issues – killing babies, gay marriage, welfare cadillacs, etc., but never anticipated that they would mutate into an autonomous movement that would threaten the republican party.


February 29th, 2012
9:47 pm

To see honest, hard working, flag waving, loyal Americans used and abused by the power brokers of politics is bad enough. For those same people to actually believe they are not being used is sickening. That goes for some well known commentators too. Wake up people! They don’t give a damn about you. Never have. Never will.


February 29th, 2012
10:04 pm


February 29th, 2012
9:47 pm

Like the Dems do care about the common man. Do not make me laugh.

Frederick Douglass

February 29th, 2012
10:18 pm

td @ 10:04

“Like the Dems do care about the common man. Do not make me laugh”.

I would refer you to Romney’s words on GM’s fate, and then interface that with the Obama administration’s actions on same said subject…….that should about answer your question.


February 29th, 2012
10:31 pm

Frederick Douglass

February 29th, 2012
10:18 pm

This is if you think the bailout was the correct thing to do. All Obama did was to pay off his political union bosses by hosing the bond holders and leaving them high and dry and using the government to make the unions the new stockholders.

Look before I leap...

February 29th, 2012
10:32 pm


“Like the Dems do care about the common man. Do not make me laugh.”

One of these days td you will fall from that pulpit you stand on and hit your head and maybe knock some sense into your pointed little partisan brain.

There are valid reasons for a difference in opinion on how best to address the country’s problems and debating those differences is part of the political process. But your continued insistence on demonizing over 50% of the American electorate tells me you come from positions that weak. You come on here and make generalized and factless claims. When called out, you deflect. When confronted with facts you either ignore or quibble.

You sir, are a lost cause.


February 29th, 2012
10:50 pm

Look before I leap…

February 29th, 2012
10:32 pm

“But your continued insistence on demonizing over 50% of the American electorate”

This blog is more the 90% libs demonizing every Republican effort and I have not seen you call out one of them. There really is not a lot of “differences of opinions” between the true believers in there philosophy. I am sir, a true believer in conservatism. I believe where the new leaders of the current democratic party are purely evil because they are attempting to take this nation towards a European social democrat welfare state. I believe that some people on these blogs do not understand what the leaderships true agenda is and when you have post after post of demonetization of conservatism then it is my duty to infuse some prospective to their agenda . I believe there are secular humanist on this bog that know exactly what the leadership is attempting to do and are trying to their best to keep fooling the uninformed.

Bill B.

February 29th, 2012
10:55 pm

Meckler is in my opinion flat out lying. They financed the same group last year. He has sucked money from this about as long as he can and now he is going to try and bring it down. Everything he has ever touched has turned to crap after two years or so. The guy was no where to be found and never on conference calls until after the first March on D.C. which by the way he never attended any of them. Some leader could not even lead the biggest event two years running. Jerk. Good riddence and stay gone.

hiram bronson granbury

February 29th, 2012
10:58 pm

@Look before I leap

Why do you read his posts? It isn’t necessary. If you have read one, you have read them all. After a while, your responses become as redundant as his posts.

Look before I leap...

February 29th, 2012
11:03 pm


You are correct and I am done with him.


February 29th, 2012
11:13 pm

They rolled out the astroturf, paid for by the real money behind this ‘movement’.
The art department ‘hand painted’ the signs for the willful serfs to parade around.
They sucked up small donations from those with no idea what they were buying, while the real money bought the elections of the most ineffective House in history.
And now, quite predictably, they have become cannibals onto each other.
An easily led angry mob that could never accept their were no WMD and believed the well paid liars on talk radio that it was wrong to ‘tax the job creators’.
Well, it is obvious they have been misled again.

But we knew that and have been saying so for two years.
The whole ‘movement’ was just the latest farce from the usual monied suspects who adopted the tricorn.


March 1st, 2012
12:17 am

Let’s see, they started one month after Obama started and they labeled him the worst ever. If Obama loses in November they will declare mission accomplished and fade back into their jobs as maids and pensioners.


March 1st, 2012
12:37 pm

The real tea party was started by Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential bid when they held a fundraiser called the ‘tea party.’ Now the GOP has hi-jacked it and ruined it. You have these random people trying to get involved by started their own tea-parties but yet don’t support Ron Paul…there is only one tea party candidate in the race and that is RON PAUL…look at Ron’s record for god sakes: lower taxes, cut spending, strong national defense and personally liberty just like the Constitution says.


March 1st, 2012
12:52 pm

td, I’m proud to be a Democrat and will vote Democrat again. The Tea Party is out of touch with reality. The Republicans want to reinstate the feudal system. I pray the Democrats can save the U.S. from the right wing mania.


March 1st, 2012
3:00 pm

Republicans Need To Be United!

While Mitt Romney tries to unify the republican electorate and restore a sense of patriotism in America, you have some liberals in the main stream media trying to destroy the integrity of the GOP candidates and the credibility of the republican party.

The Republican party and America needs a proven leader like Mitt Romney who will defend our rights , our values, our freedoms, our country and inspire Americans to “Believe In America”.

Mitt Romney lead the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and has once again in 2012 demonstrated the same leadership on the campaign trail as the candidate of choice to lead the Republican party to victory.

It is now time for Republicans, the tea party folks, libertarians, conservative media and all Americans to rally behind Mitt Romney and stand united ready to defeat Pres. Obama in the November general election.

United We Stand!

“We The People” video