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New Tea Party Federation Aims To Unite Movement -- But One Key Group Stays Away

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Mark Skoda, a Tea Party leader from Memphis, is serving as the chief spokesman for the effort, and appears to have played a leading role in putting it together. Skoda, working closely with Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation, had helped organize and promote February's convention, at which Sarah Palin delivered the keynote speech and which enjoyed widespread media coverage. Also part of the new coalition is the Tea Party Express, the brainchild of a team of California Republican political consultants.

But one prominent group, the Tea Party Patriots (TPP), doesn't appear to be joining the party. Jenny Beth Martin, a leader of TPP noted to TPMmuckraker that her group already considers itself the largest grassroots Tea Party organization, and said it hadn't been involved in planning the new federation. TPP had also stayed away from February's convention.

TPP's stance could significantly complicate the project. Tea Party Patriots have helped to organize some of the best-attended Tea Party events of the last year, including the 9/12 "March on Washington" that brought tens of thousands to the Mall. Any federation of Tea Party groups that doesn't include them will have difficulty speaking for the broad Tea Party movement.

Skoda did not immediately respond to a request for comment.