Liberty Blog

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.