Tea Party Nation organizers today issued a long defense of their unraveling convention, lambasting former members they say are trying to harm the movement and outlining for the first time in great detail their event’s sponsorships and problems.
We’ve been following the travails of the upcoming Tea Party Nation convention for weeks, with key speakers withdrawing and the Tea Party Express group backing out as well thanks to feuds over the cost and expected profits of the convention.
Sherry Phillips wrote a long email to members of the Tea Party Nation mailing list titled “Setting The Record Straight.”
Phillips said organizers were encouraged to speak out against the “intense media scrutiny and attacks by former members” but she stayed silent so as not to further divisions “that are already hurting this movement.”
“We will stay silent no longer,” she wrote.She goes into detail about convention sponsors American Liberty Alliance, American Majority and Campaign for Liberty, and said the Tea Party Express only withdrew because of their push to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada.
She calls out “former Tea Party Nation members” for “discussing their association with liberal media outlets” and “conspiring” to harm TPN and the convention.
Phillips said a business loan from Bill Hemrick has been paid back in full and that the members of Congress who pulled out of the event were “rightfully concerned about backlash they will receive from the left-leaning Democrat controlled House Ethics Committee.”
“[W]e have no doubt the Democrats would have found something in that code to cause them problems once the convention was over,” Phillips wrote, insisting TPN maintains a strong relationship with both Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
She explains that TPN is not a nonprofit but said the group is run by volunteers. She said the group expects to break even and “may even make a few thousand dollars to cover local operating costs of TPN.”
“We never did this to make us rich or famous. Quite the contrary, we are patriots who love our country, our members and the people who are coming to Nashville to attend this great event,” Phillips wrote.
Read the full email, obtained by TPM as a member of the mailing list, below.
A message to all members of Tea Party Nation
Setting The Record Straight
by Sherry Phillips
Judson and I have stayed silent in the face of intense media scrutiny and attacks by former members. As a wife and a mother, I have stood by my husband and family and stayed strong in the face of many baseless accusations and criticism. We have refrained from responding to many of the attacks that have been thrown at us from other “Tea Party” groups, in the belief we did not want to spread the divisions that are already hurting this movement even though that does not seem to be the consideration of some others involved in this movement.
Because of the many TPN members’ requests and encouragement, I have decided to provide comment about Tea Party Nation and the National Tea Party Convention. We will stay silent no longer. I hope my comments and the issues I deal with in this note will provide some clarity.
American Liberty Alliance – Eric Odom’s American Liberty Alliance is a for profit company that takes donations. We agreed to a sponsorship exchange where ALA would be a gold sponsor of the convention and we would be a gold sponsor of the Tax Day Tea Party. Shortly after agreeing to this exchange, Eric emailed Judson and me privately saying he was supportive of us and this convention and did not want to pull out, because he thinks this convention is going to be a huge success; however, some his “influential supporters” were not happy about ALA’s participation in the convention and asked Eric to withdraw.
American Majority – After stating in the beginning they wanted to co-sponsor the convention, they never answered repeated emails sent asking them for confirmation of their attendance. They did not promote the convention and did not put the convention on their calendar. In fact Ned Ryun spent 5 minutes in an interview on Fox News talking about the Tea Party movement and did not mention the convention at all. Meanwhile, another training organization contacted us asking if they could become a sponsor and if they could do a breakout session. We gladly accepted and gave them American Majority’s spots. On January 6, Ned’s assistant sent an email stating she was making travel arrangements for them to come and participate in the convention and asked when did we have their breakouts scheduled. I told her because of their non-response, we gave American Majority’s slots to this other organization. They then requested that their logo be removed from the Convention website. We complied with their request.
Tea Party Express – This group has been very supportive of us. They intended to do a small tour, culminating in an event Saturday afternoon prior to the banquet. Because of their efforts in the Scott Brown race and their intent to go after Harry Reid in Nevada, they simply cannot make the trip. We received a very nice email from them explaining their actions and restating their invitation to join them when they kick off their next tour in March. We will be there. We fully support their endeavors as they open their next tour in Nevada this spring.
Campaign for Liberty – We actively sought out Campaign for Liberty as a sponsor of this convention. We were contacted several weeks ago by the TN Director for CFL who wanted to co-sponsor the convention and I put him in touch with our Sponsorship Chair. We have not heard anything from them since.
Former Tea Party Nation Members – Several former members were unanimously banned from our site for reasons running the gamut from antagonism to passing on confidential information. These members have been blogging, as well as discussing their association with liberal media outlets and conspiring with each other to, “Take TPN and this convention down”. In one of their more egregious statements a former member wrote that Judson stated, “I want to make a million dollars from this movement.” Judson has never made this statement. He has stated on numerous occasions that he would like TPN to have a million members all fighting for the cause of conservatism!
Bill Hemrick – Mr. Hemrick made a business loan to Tea Party Nation at a commercial interest rate. This loan has been paid back in full. That is the full extent of any relationship we have had with Mr. Hemrick.
Congressmen Bachmann and Blackburn – Both Congresswomen have large targets on their backs and are rightfully concerned about backlash they will receive from the left-leaning Democrat controlled House Ethics Committee. Because of the complexity of the Ethics Code regarding House Representatives, we have no doubt the Democrats would have found something in that code to cause them problems once the convention was over. We were also informed by Rep. Bachmann that both were being told two different things by the House Ethics Committee in regard to their participation. This of course sent up red flags to everyone involved. We do not blame either Congressman for their decision to withdraw from the convention and maintain a strong relationship with them both.
Tea Party Nation – Last February after Judson held one of the first tea parties in the country in downtown Nashville, he came up with the idea for a social networking site for conservatives. Judson and I created Tea Party Nation. We formed the corporation. We financed the corporation. We bought the domain name teapartynation.com, we purchased the servers and we pay for the monthly expenses. We are a C-Corp and do not accept donations. Tea Party Nation charges nothing to be a member and is run entirely by volunteers. Recently, we have been able to start charging for advertising on the site to help defray the costs of running the site. As TPN has stated since its formation, we are not a non-profit. We prefer to offer free membership to conservative patriots so they may participate in the political process of restoring this nation to its founding principles without financial burdens, hardships or roadblocks to prevent their participation. Members are then able to choose their own way to spend their money without any involvement from TPN. PayPal Account – We are using a business PayPal account for the convention. An email address is required to notify a contact when payment is received and we are using my TPN email account at firstname.lastname@example.org as that notification email address. All money in that account is transferred directly into the TPN business bank account. We fully expect to break even during this event. We may even make a few thousand dollars to cover local operating costs of TPN. We have made the best of a tight budget and scaled back the price of attending this convention as much as we could without putting TPN into bankruptcy. The convention is sold out and we have a waiting list of over five hundred people. We never did this to make us rich or famous. Quite the contrary, we are patriots who love our country, our members and the people who are coming to Nashville to attend this great event.
For all of you who will be attending, we look forward to meeting you this upcoming week and we thank everyone for the support and patriotism in this fight against liberalism. God bless you all and I thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.
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