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12 Tea Party Players To Watch

A List Of Some Of The Most Influential And Talked-About Groups In The Grassroots Uprising

Updated at 9:12 a.m. on Feb. 17.

From establishment insiders like FreedomWorks to grassroots groups that have yet to formally incorporate, the following organizations have gained attention on the national stage for their involvement with the Tea Party movement. All have the potential to play an instrumental role in turning the loose network of activists into effective agents of change.


Americans For Limited Government American Majority Americans For Prosperity And Americans For Prosperity Foundation FreedomWorks Independence Caucus Liberty First Our Country Deserves Better PAC Smart Girl Politics, Inc. Tea Party Nation Tea Party Patriots The 912 Project The Patriot Caucus

Among nonprofits, 501(c)(3) status indicates that the group can put a limited amount of time and money into lobbying and cannot support or oppose candidates for public office. Those with a 501(c)(4) status can lobby and engage in political activity. Some larger organizations have both types of entities.


Americans For Limited Government

Type Of Group: Nonprofit 501(c)(4) Founded: Launched by its first chairman, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Olka., and current Chairman Howard Rich. Signature Tea Party Effort: Developed the database used by during the April 15, 2009, nationwide rallies. Number Of Employees: 30 Number Of Active Supporters: Claims more than 400,000, though this number has been contested. 2007 Revenue (Most Recent Available): $2.2 million Director William Wilson's 2007 Salary: $16,667 Budget: $4 million; 99% of its contributions in 2005 (which totaled $5.4 million) were provided by only three donors. Funds Are Spent On: Targeting Blue Dog and other centrist Democrats in the House and Senate on controversial votes.

Americans For Prosperity And Americans For Prosperity Foundation

Type Of Group: 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(3), respectively. Type Of Group: Branded by some on the left as "Astroturf." Signature Tea Party Campaign: A spokeswoman calls AFP "part of the tea party -- little 't,' little 'p.'" The organization's Hands Off My Health Care bus tour included stops at town hall events in August. Its Hot Air Tour attracted a crowd that included Tea Party activists. The group spent just over $15 million on both campaigns. In addition, its 25 state chapters and members across the country have made alliances with local Tea Party groups. At The Helm: President Tim Phillips. David H. Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, is chairman of the foundation. Founded: In 2003, after it split off from Citizens for a Sound Economy. Number Of National Office Employees: 34 Number Of State-Level Employees: 35 Number Of Members: 960,000 Contributions Come From: 55,000 donors Type Of Group: $244,212 Type Of Group: $7,470,027 Funds Are Spent On: Rallies, events, and education and outreach efforts.

American Majority

Type Of Group: Nonprofit, 501(c)(3) that provides grassroots and candidate training. Name-calling: Matt Angle, director of Texas Democratic Trust PAC, said: "What the Republicans are trying to do is put some political organization behind the mean wing of their party. They ought to put a jersey on that says 'R' on it." Tea Party Involvement: American Spectator writes, "They will surely play a key role in helping Tea Partiers focus and direct their complaints about excessive, invasive government." At The Helm: Headed by Ned Ryun, son of former Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan. Total 2008 Revenue: $997,367 President's 2008 Salary: $117,285 Causes: Recruits conservative candidates for local and state offices (such as town councils, school boards, county commissions, and state legislatures). Unofficially partners with state-level conservative think tanks to create site-specific manuals to prepare candidates. According to the Washington Post, American Majority has trained "several thousand."

FreedomWorks, FreedomWorks Foundation And FreedomWorks PAC

Type Of Group: 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) with a PAC. Name-calling: Some liberal bloggers have derided the group as "Astroturf" for organizing activists over issues that appear to support the agenda of clients at Chairman Dick Armey's lobbying firm. Signature Tea Party Event: The Sept. 12 Taxpayer March on Washington, which the group believes to be "the largest gathering of limited government conservatives in history." It spent $500,000 organizing the march. At The Helm: Armey, who was House majority leader as a Republican congressman from Texas. Founded: In 1984 as Citizens for a Sound Economy, which merged with Empower America in 2004. The name was later changed to FreedomWorks. Number Of Full-Time Staff In Washington: 20 Number Of Full-Time Staff On The State Level: 2 Number Of Members: About 860,000 Online Members: About 440,000 Revenue From 2009: About $8 million Chairman's 2008 Salary: $550,000 Funds Are Spent On: Education and mobilization campaigns, and recruiting and organizing. Unique Causes: Tax reform, privatizing Social Security, expanding school vouchers, combating cap-and-trade legislation and regulatory reform in telecommunications, financial sector and medicine.


Independence Caucus

Type Of Group: Registered as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Utah and has also created the Independence Caucus 527 PAC. But as of its last filling, its budget is "all zeroes." The group doesn't officially include itself as part of the Tea Party movement, but sees itself as "right in" with the Tea Party and 912 groups. Type Of Group: The group hosts debates around the country to find fiscally responsible candidates who are sound on Constitutional principles. On Tax Day last year, co-founder Frank Anderson spoke at the Indianapolis Tea Party. At The Helm: Anderson, former campaign manager for Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.. Founded: In 2008 by volunteers working to elect Chaffetz to Congress. Number Of Employees: No paid employees. Number Of People On Its Email List: Over 12,000 Number Of Online Supporters: About 6,300 Funds Are Spent On: Building an online presence, travel expenses and coordinating debates. The group is currently building its budget for 2010, and will then develop a more targeted fundraising strategy. Causes: Committed to removing the influence of big money special interests on the government. Committed to removal of all incumbents who are influenced by special interests, and to find, vet and endorse candidates through its PAC. For 2010, the group hopes to remove 40 percent of these so-called "compromised" incumbents from office.

Liberty First

Type Of Group: A new Political Action Committee that will become the umbrella for American Liberty Alliance and (Some leaders of the PAC are also key organizers of Patriot Caucus) Founded: December 2009 Signature Tea Party Event: Sprung from the Don't Go Movement, became a hub for people to organize April 15 Tax Day demonstrations. ALA promoted Nationwide Recess Rallies and helped organize groups and coalitions at the local level. At The Helm: Committee members are Eric Odom, Ken Marrero, and Steve Foley. Number Of Members: has about 60,000 members. Name-calling: In a recent ALA e-mail blast to supporters, Odom wrote: "There are going to be beltway organizations that try to tap into the movement, and there will even be 'tea party' groups that are now 'married' to beltway organizations try to do the same. But I think the biggest successes will come at a true grassroots level."

Our Country Deserves Better

Type Of Group: Political action committee Name-calling: Some have charged the PAC with exploiting the cause, and others like Tea Party Patriots have resisted partnering with them for that reason. Signature protest: Tea Party Express bus tours At The Helm: Howard Kaloogian, former Republican member of the California Assembly who launched the Recall Gray Davis Committee. Founded: July 2008 Number Of Active Supporters: Over 300,000 Spent For 2008 Cycle: $1.3 million Spent For 2010 Cycle: $2.0 million Funds Are Spent On: Our Country Deserves Better was the only Tea Party PAC to purchase airtime in the Massachusetts Senate race in support of Scott Brown, spending $350,000 on ads, e-mail blasts and other expenses. In addition, the PAC has spent $250,000 so far on an ongoing "Defeat Harry Reid" campaign.

Smart Girl Politics, Inc.

Type Of Group: Application pending for 501(c)(4) nonprofit status Type Of Group: Began as a blog by President Stacy Mott in July 2008. Mott founded Smart Girl Politics, Inc., in December 2008. SGP filed for non-profit status in March 2009. Signature Tea Party Event: Co-sponsored Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party on April 15, 2009. "Activist toolkit" available on Web site includes conservative talking points and a list of Blue Dog Democrats most likely to be swayed by Tea Party activism. Number of employees: 0 Number Of People On Its Email List: 40,000 Number Of Active Supporters: 25,000 with over 10,000 members on Ning and Facebook sites. Funds Are Spent On: Smart Girl Summit, September 2009, Tennessee, a training session for 150 activists. The summit was attended by Liz Cheney, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Michelle Malkin. Plans to launch two nationwide voter registration drives prior to the midterm elections. Unique Causes: To provide leadership training to conservative female candidates.

Tea Party Nation

Type Of Group: For-profit corporation Name-calling: The group has been at the center of controversy over its upcoming National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tenn. The high price of attending ($549), Sarah Palin's speaking fee ($115,000), its status as a for-profit institution and reports of questionable accounting practices have raised eyebrows, causing some sponsors and Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to drop out. Signature Tea Party Event: The embattled National Tea Party Convention from Feb. 4-6. At The Helm: Judson Phillips, a Nashville-area DUI attorney. Founded: 2009 Number Of Employees: 0 Number Of Supporters: 12,000 Funds Are Spent On: The convention. As it stands now, Tea Party Nation is "barely breaking even," Phillips said. Any profits made from the convention are "going to get plowed back into some form of activism, whether we do it in a 527 or chose some other form, we'll have to wait and see."

Tea Party Patriots

Type Of Group: Application pending for 501(c)(4) status Known As: A national support organization that provides training for "anyone who identifies with the Tea Party movement," according to national coordinator Mark Meckler. They're also leading an effort to create a 20-point "Contract From America." Signature Tea Party Event: Worked on the Tax Day Tea Party on April 15, the August town hall protests and the Sept. 12 Taxpayer March on Washington. At The Helm: Meckler, an attorney, and Jenny Beth Martin, who has a background in information technology, serve as the top national coordinators. Founded: After the April 15 demonstations, as a resource for activists who participated. Number Of Paid Employees: 0, though Martin received her first compensation as a paid contractor last month. Number Of Supporters: Claims 15 million associates through its network of over 1,000 affiliated organizations. Funds Are Spent On: Support for Tea Party groups under its umbrella, with an emphasis on technology.

The 912 Project

Type of Group: Glenn Beck's upstart conservative activist network rallies around his "9 Principles, 12 Values" manifesto. Signature Tea Party Event: The Sept. 12 Taxpayer March on Washington. Beck has also called for the 912 faithful to join him this August at the Lincoln Memorial for the Restoring Honor Rally, where he will reveal "The Plan": his 100-year agenda for "re-founding" the country. The event is billed as a "non-political fundraiser" for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. At The Helm: Fox News personality Beck. Founded: March of 2009 Causes: To "bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001," when we stood "together to protect the greatest nation ever created."

The Patriot Caucus

Type Of Group: Nodal point for Tea Party groups, facilitating communication and training for disparate groups and connecting them with the national movement. They call themselves "a peer powered entity being put in place to facilitate an environment of mass collaboration and communication within the liberty movement." The group plans to form a political action committee. Signature Tea Party Event: An April conference in Valley Forge, Pa., where the group will elect regional delegates and seek to build consensus within its membership. Interim national chairman Michael Johns hopes to solicit members' perspectives on what the organization, and, more broadly, the movement "should be standing for and standing against" and "what comprises a winning strategy [for] getting liberty minded candidates elected." At The Helm: Johns, a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. Number Of Paid Employees: 0 Number Of Active Supporters: About 3,200 Funds Are Spent On: Building organizational infrastructure and planning for the Valley Forge event. Causes: To quell any infighting among the disparate groups organizing under the Tea Party banner. The group's wiki claims that it neither seeks to become the central hub for the Tea Party movement nor endorse any political party.

CORRECTION: The original version of this report overstated the number of members that Smart Girl Politics has on its Ning and Facebook social networking sites. It has over 10,000 members.

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