They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker
The pitch begins like this: You pay a minimum of $12 a year and get a "Platinum" membership (for $24 a year you can get the "Platinum Silver" plan, and "Platinum Gold" would cost you $50). And then, according to the site, "50% of your annual membership fee goes to finance conservative causes, and a large portion of the rest of that membership fee goes into our dynamic compensation plan, that pays each Independent Rep for their efforts to enrol [sic] other members...."
Once you're all signed up, you're supposed to start recruiting new members, and most importantly, get them to pay the membership fee. For your trouble, TeaPartyBizOpp will "pay you for your efforts of telling others about this opportunity - and we believe in paying you well, to give you alot [sic] of incentive to go out and sign up other members!"
So: buy in, get paid for recruiting more people to follow in your footsteps, and repeat ad infinitum so everyone keeps getting paid. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Right.
The site provides a graph of what kind of money you should expect to get, based on a "Platinum Silver" membership. Check it out:
So who's behind this scheme? In an email to TPM, Mike Patterson confirmed that he owns North Georgia Advertising -- which he described as a "direct response marketing company" -- and which operates the TeaPartyBizOpp website. Patterson touts TeaPartyBizOpp as one of his company's newest marketing programs.
He explained that "right now the conservative organizations we help finance are the GOP, and the American Center for Law & Justice." The rest of the money "goes into our marketing budget - which in our case is paid to our Independent Reps. for the efforts of enrolling other members to help finance conservative causes."
Patterson clarified that his business has "no official connection to the Tea Party," and while he hasn't been to any rallies himself, he does consider himself a "Tea Party Supporter."
And the site's homepage provides exactly the sort of pitch that would appeal to other tea party supporters:
The democratic party (controlled by far left radicals) have finally shown their true colors and reveled their true agenda's to the American people, their loyalty lies not with you, or this great nation we all love, but their loyalty lies with a self serving agenda, (marxist - socialism) they truly despise America, and what it stands for.
The site also refers to President Obama as a socialist, and asserts that those on the far left "hate America, they hate Christianity, they hate capitalism, they hate limited government, they hate individual freedom and rights."
If only "the 80 million plus Tea Party supporters joined in harmony and agreed to pay a small annual fee each year to help counter the Liberal Agenda they could easily raise $1 billion Dollars a year."
Patterson told TPM that he expects to have 2,000 members by Christmas, when his company will kick off an additional marketing push. TeaPartyBizOpp, he says, is much like the tea party itself: "a grassroots movement of Individuals that go out and convince friends, family, and people they know to make a small annual donation each year to fight Liberal tyranny."
TeaPartyBizOpps also features a handy "Marketing Ideas" page to help fundraisers recruit, featuring tips about starting a Facebook page and warnings that posting as part of Amazon.com book reviews must be "on key with the subject of the book, otherwise that would be spam, and we discourage that."
But North Georgia Advertising isn't only targeting tea partiers. Patterson's group is linked to at least one other pyramid-like business opportunity, called "The $1 Business Opportunity," which claims to reward members every time they shop online at certain retailers, and every time "someone in your organization 10 levels deep shops online."
When TPM asked Patterson if he was worried people would see TeaPartyBizOpp as a scammy pyramid scheme, especially in light of the other non-political site, Patterson said: "Not at all. It's a network marketing model - which is a far cry from being a pyramid scheme, Network Marketing ( is a legitimate, legal business model)."
The idea, he said, is to "use a word of mouth approach (networking) instead of advertising through traditional streams (eg media)."
"You don't have to take our word for it," Patterson added, continuing:
Network marketing is now being endorsed by a number of leading businessmen worldwide.
"If I lost everything and had to start again, I would find myself a great network marketing company and get to work!"
- Donald Trump (David Letterman Show
"Unless you are networking, you will soon be not working"
Dr Denis Waitley
Warren Buffet, Robert Kyosaki, and others.
Emphasis and punctuation his.
"30 days from now you can either be a month older," the long home-page pitch concludes, "or you could be receiving your first pay check for your efforts."