Key Sponsor Pulls Out Of Tea Party Convention

January 13, 2010 5:01 a.m.

One of the key co-sponsors of the National Tea Party Convention has pulled out of the event, citing concerns over the financial arrangements of Tea Party Nation, the group organizing the confab.

Eric Odom of American Liberty Alliance is seen by many as one of the founders of the Tea Party movement. His group had been listed as a “gold” co-sponsor of the convention, and in an interview Friday with TPMmuckraker, Odom sounded bullish about it. But today he writes that his group “will sit out” the event:

[T]he controversy surrounding the event involves conversations about the infrastructure of the Tea Party Nation and the way its finances are channeled through private bank accounts and paypal accounts.

To be clear, the for-profit model has its place in the movement. Many, MANY groups in the movement operate this way. But these groups should always have boards and oversight, and should never, ever process donations through personal paypal accounts.

In this particular case, it’s entirely possible that those involved are operating in a fair way. But when we look at the $500 price tag for the event and the fact that many of the original leaders in the group left over similar issues, it’s hard for us not to assume the worst.

As we’ve reported, some activists have raised concerns over the $549 price tag for the event, and have suggested that the prime organizer, Nashville attorney Judson Phillips, is seeking to profit financially from it. And RedState founder Erick Erickson has written that the convention “smells scammy.”

Odom’s decision may have been prompted in part by a lengthy and detailed blog post, which appeared yesterday, from a Nashville activist, who had worked with Phillips on Tea Party events last year. Among numerous allegations leveled by Kevin Smith against Phillips is the claim that Phillips said he had to set up Tea Party Nation as a for-profit corporation because Barack Obama planned to ban non-profits. Smith also described Phillips as “the kind of attorney who would regularly use his status as a legal professional to threaten and intimidate people into giving him what he wanted.”

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