12 Tea Party Players To Watch

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

National Journal
Feb. 3, 2010, 7 p.m.

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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