Blackburn Backs Out Of Controversial Tea Party Convention, Bachmann May Follow

January 28, 2010 6:25 a.m.

The much-maligned National Tea Party Convention may be unraveling, as one of its scheduled GOP speakers backs out, and another mulls doing likewise.

The convention, planned for next month in Nashville, grabbed headlines by announcing that Sarah Palin and Republican Congresswomen Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn would speak.But lately, the convention has come under fire from some Tea Partiers who view it as inauthentic, and believe organizer Judson Phillips and his outfit, Tea Party Nation, are out to make a profit. And now, Blackburn, of Tennessee, has changed her mind about appearing, citing just such fears.

Blackburn said in a statement:

I spoke to Judson Phillips this morning and let him know that I could not participate in the convention. I told him frankly that Tea Party Nation’s for-profit status has put many of his speakers in an awkward position. I remain encouraged by the outpouring of energy from constitutionally minded grassroots organizations in Tennessee and around America. These groups are not made up of Republicans or Democrats but everyday Americans who are concerned about their freedom. They know that out-of-control spending and the expansion of government ultimately limits that freedom. I share their concerns and look forward to working with them in the future.

Yesterday, Blackburn had explained her hesitancy about the event, telling the Commercial Appeal of Memphis: “It’s a ‘We the people’ event and I think sometimes it’s become about ‘I the organizer,’ for the organizer.”

Meanwhile, conservative darling Bachmann, of Minnesota, has said she too is considering backing out, because of concerns over violating ethics rules — though its not clear which ones.

And Mother Jones reports that Palin, too, is coming under pressure from Tea Party activists to back out, though she has given no indication that she will. Her speaking fee has been reported to be as high as $100,000.

At least two major sponsors have recently backed out of the controversial confab, and hundreds of tickets are reportedly still available.

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