Liberty Blog

Catching Heat From the Astrotuf

Posted in Uncategorized by Phil Russo on November 4, 2009

Since I posted my last blog I have been catching a lot of heat from members of the AstoTurf Express. They seem to be upset that someone is telling the truth about what they are doing. If they aren’t doing anything wrong why would they be so upset about someone explaining to people what is going on? Why are they so angry at me for writing a blog stating that the “Tea Party” Express is being run by a political action committee (PAC)? Why are they so upset that I wrote in my blog about the PAC paying for hotel rooms and meals for Tea Party leaders. I think the Tea Party leaders that are on the bus have a guilty conscious about what they are doing. That is why they are lashing out at me for telling the grassroots what is really happening.
This week there were emails sent out by the AstroTurf Express begging for donations to raise money for TV advertising. This is really sad and disgusting and the Tea Party leaders on that bus should be ashamed of themselves for exploiting the Tea Party name to raise money so a PAC can run TV ads. One of the emails said the following (in part):

We put out the word this morning that we’re going to launch our third wave of national television advertising. We need to raise $35,000 in two days to pay for this, and so far today have already raised over $10,000. Thank you!

We’ve also been getting increasing coverage from both CNN and Fox News. Our Communications Director, Levi Russell, is uploading those files and we’ll be sending them out to you (we have slow Internet connection out here in the Nevada desert so bear with us as it takes a little time).

To help us raise the $25,000 we need to raise today and tomorrow, please make a contribution to our Tea Party Express –

Is this what the Tea Party movement is supposed to be? Is this grassroots? I know I am not the only one that has a problem with this because dozens of people have sent me emails about this stating their problems with this. As I said in my last blog, this PAC is exploiting the emotional attachment that the grassroots has to the Tea Party name for their own gain; so they can run TV ads and stay in nice hotels on their bus tour and eat at nice restaurants every meal of every day. To make matters worse, as if it could get much worse, they issued the following press release today:

Breaking News: Leaders of the Tea Party Express (website: http://www.TeaPartyExprss.org) are flying out to Washington, D.C. to join Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann on Thursday, November 5th at 12:00 Noon.

Tea Party Express Vice Chair, Deborah Johns, Tea Party Patriots co-founder, Amy Kremer, and singer of the “American Tea Party Anthem” will all briefly leave the ongoing Tea Party Express national tour and fly out to Washington, D.C.

And they will carry with them thousands of letters opposing Speaker Pelosi’s government-run healthcare plan that have been handwritten by attendees at the Tea Party Express rallies that have been taking place across the nation these past few days.

So in addition to using the Tea Party name to raise money for their PAC to donate to candidates that may or may not support Tea Party values they are using your money to fly to DC for tomorrows event. We all know how expensive it is to buy a plane ticket on short notice so it must have cost a pretty penny to buy 3!
All of this is further proof of what a fraud the Tea Party Express is. They are not grassroots, they are not nonpartisan and they don’t care about us or this movement. All they care about is exploiting the true grassroots of this movement so they can raise money for their PAC and jetset around America feeling important. And Heaven forbid anyone should have the nerve to tell the truth and inform people about what is really going on! I will continue to catch hell, I suppose, because I will continue to tell the truth about the AstroTurf Express fraud.

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The Tea Party Express Fraud

Posted in Uncategorized by Phil Russo on November 2, 2009

There are two reasons the Tea Party Express stop in Orlando is a fraud. Each reason is equally important though unrelated to the other reason. They are as follows:
1) The Tea Party Express is being organized and promoted by a political action committee (PAC) that is not connected to the Tea Party Movement in any way. The PAC is using the emotional attachment that people have to the Tea Party name to raise-funds. If they had planned this tour and called it the PAC Fundraiser Express they know very well that no one would have showed up or donated money. So, they call their bus tour Tea Party Express knowing that large crowds will turn out and people will be more willing to give money if they think that the money is going to support the Tea Party movement or candidates approved by the Tea Party movement. We in Orlando find this to be disingenuous at best and outright fraud at worst and we are not alone in our feelings. The Houston Tea Party and other Tea Party groups are also boycotting the Tea Party Express stops in their respective cities. The PAC is paying two real Tea Party leaders to be on the bus with them to lend legitimacy to the tour. Also, the local Tea Party leaders are not “planning” these events per se. Local leaders are being asked to secure locations and permits but the program is predetermined by the PAC. All the music and speakers and the messege et al is determined by the PAC.
When the Orlando Tea Party was contacted by the Tea Party Express about planning the stop here in Orlando and we told them that we could not in good faith ask our members and followers to attend an event that is raising funds for a PAC that will be going to candidates that are not in Central Florida and have not been vetted by the Orlando Tea Party. If we were going to hold such an event, which we would not, we would ensure that the money raised would go to candidates in Central Florida that were approved by our members and we would ensure that people donating knew to what candidates their money would go. This brings us to problem number two.
2) After we told them that the Orlando Tea Party would not be planning nor promoting this event and we would prefer it if they did not come to Orlando they decided to contact a local shock jock to plan and promote the event. This local shock jock has a terrible reputation in Orlando because of a long line of publicity stunts that he has pulled recently. Last summer during an Orange County Commission meeting the radio show host stood up and started publicly berating Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty. Mayor Crotty gave him a few minutes to rant and rave before telling him he had his say so please sit down. The shock jock continued to yell and scream until Orange County Sheriffs deputies took him out in handcuffs and gave him a criminal tresspass, meaning he is never allowed at the Orange County Commission as long as he lives.
More recently (last week) this shock jock attended an Orange County Republican Executive Committee (OCREC) meeting and pulled a similar stunt to that which he pulled at the Orange County Commission meeting. He stood up out of turn and made a motion that the program be tabled so OCREC could discuss plans that he has for the party. OCREC Chairman Lew Oliver ruled him out of order and asked him to sit down. Instead, he continued his diatribe until the crowd started shouting at him to sit down, at which point he removed his OCREC membership badge and threw it across the room and stormed out. Because of this latest stunt the radio station on which his program aired canceled his program, this being the last in a long line of problems they had to put up with because of him.
The Orlando Tea Party has a great reputation around town and because of our influence we have the respect of many of our local elected officials. Members of the State House and candidates for Congress and Senate, and many other smaller offices, seek us out for advice and opinions. We have worked hard to cultivate these relationships and have the ability to influence politicians and policy and we will not have our reputation tarnished by having people think that this event that the shock jock is planning is associated in any way with the Orlando Tea Party. We do not want our names anywhere near his out of fear that the effectiveness that we have worked so hard for will disappear.
Finally, the shock jock planning the event is selling booths to politicians and issue groups eg. Fair Tax, for $500 a booth. When questioned as to what would be done with the money left over after covering expenses we were told it would be profit. When we expressed our dismay he responded that “profit is not a dirty word”, which is true but the Orlando Tea Party has never profited from an event. We have held 4 events that drew more than 4,000 at each event and we only charged money to people wishing to sell things at their booths. Politicians and groups wishing to passout information about issues were given booths free of charge. All money raised went to cover the cost of our events and anything left over was put into the Orlando Tea Party bank account for use on a future event. Those of us who were involved in the original Nationwide Tea Parties since February and had worked on the Tax Day event and the two other Tea Parties we had here in Orlando resented someone who has never planned a Tea Party using the name Tea Party to put money in his own pockets.