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Defamation Suit Against Tea Party Group Part Of Ongoing 'Family' Feud

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In a statement Tuesday, the Tea Party Patriots' attorneys said the group "denies all allegations in new suits, and vows a vigorous defense."

Deborah Ausburn, who is representing Jenny Beth Martin, Lee Martin and the Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement that the suit is part of a continued grudge against the TPP by Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer, who was ousted from the TPP Board of Directors in 2009.

"The new litigation is the next chapter in Ms. Kremer's long-standing animosity against Tea Party Patriots," Ausburn said. "As with her past claims, Tea Party Patriots, Inc., denies all allegations in the suits and will vigorously defend itself in the forum that Ms. Kremer has chosen. It is easier to make claims in a complaint than to prove those claims in court. Tea Party Patriots is confident of vindication at the end of the legal process."

The conflict seems to stem from a blow-up in 2009. Kremer, who helped co-found Tea Party Patriots, decided in September of that year to join the Tea Party Express, which was a project of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC. The Tea Party Patriots were concerned about the partisanship of TPX and its overt ties to Republicans, so they canned her from the board when she joined.

In November of that year, TPP sued Kremer over the rights to the Tea Party Patriots name, because they said she was continuing to use her TPP title in activities not affiliated with the group.

In the latest suit, James Lyle and Kylie Kremer allege that Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin and her husband, TPP's CEO Lee Martin, defamed them on "a public group in Facebook" under the alias "Dale Buttersworth." The alias, the suit says, is connected with the Martins' IP address and personal e-mail accounts.

Kylie Kremer, who has previously interned for both the Tea Party Patriots and the Tea Party Express, is also the daughter of Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer. She alleges in her complaint that "Buttersworth" wrote in a Facebook post that she "had been raped, reported the rape to the police and was kicked out of her home by her mother and her mother's boyfriend as a result of reporting the rape."

Lyle, an organizer for the Tea Party Express, alleges that "Buttersworth" falsely wrote that he was "guilty of having raped, the minor daughter of his girlfriend and was a child molester."

As TPM reported earlier this week, the suit does not specify which public page the comments were posted on, and there is currently no "Dale Buttersworth" account on Facebook that is publicly viewable (though there are several "Dale Butterworth"s).

It's not immediately clear if Amy Kremer is involved with this suit apart from the involvement of her daughter, and both said in e-mails that they "cannot respond to matters that are in active litigation."