As Tea Party Nation prepares for their first national convention in Nashville next month, charges of profiteering are fracturing its solidarity. Several member activists have quit the group to protest founder Judson Phillips' decision to establish the group as a for-profit company, while the party's former webmaster has charged that big-name Republicans are co-opting the movement's ideas and momentum to help them in this year's elections. Is the Tea Party movement being exploited?
Profiteers are hijacking the Tea Party: "Tea partiers hate the GOP establishment and its Wall Street allies," says Frank Rich in The New York Times, but that's not stopping Republican "buckrakers" like Michael Steele and Sarah Palin from desperately hitching themselves to the Tea Party wagon. Meanwhile, the Tea Party convention, a "profit-seeking affair" with $560 tickets, "is almost as shameless as Glenn Beck, [who recently hawked] gold coins merchandised by a sponsor of his radio show."
"The great Tea Party rip-off"
The movement is strong, despite some growing pains: Liberals would love to "unravel the Tea Party fabric," says Jane Jamison in American Thinker. But the Republicans and other conservatives "appreciate the energy and ethics of the Tea Party protesters," and no one is about to let the "troubling" issue of profiteering derail the movement. If the activists convening in Nashville stay focused on getting organized and finding their own "heroes" to lead them, "the Tea Party Convention will be a huge success."
"Tempest in the tea party"
The party's new leaders can't ignore this crisis: "As a capitalist, I’m certainly not against people making money," says Rob Port in Say Anything Blog, but the Tea Party needs a strong hand to regulate the temptations - and this movement doesn't seem to like controls. The 10 "tea parties I've participated in" were fueled by people protesting "overbearing" government. The Tea Party won't survive if "hucksters" are allowed to exploit it to "enrich or aggrandize themselves."
"The tea parties are being exploited"