In a fluff piece on the head of the Tea Party Patriots, Jenny Beth Martin, the Wall Street Journal contends that the recent IRS pseudo-scandal has reinvigorated the Tea-publican movement. Never mind that their own poll shows that only 37% – of Republicans – support the Tea Party. The gist of the article’s analysis rests on the improved fundraising they have enjoyed since the GOP has fanned the phony scandal.
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Indeed, the Tea Party Patriots raised more than $20 million last year, which makes their complaint about the IRS scrutiny ring rather hollow. Martin complains that not having tax-exempt status was “a disincentive to some potential donors.” Perhaps a bigger disincentive might be that they spend 85 cents of every dollar raised on additional fundraising. Or maybe donors weren’t impressed with the fact that their candidates (e.g. Akin, Mourdock, Angle, O’Donnell, Paladino, etc.), are mostly losers.
Martin told the WSJ that “the big donors…wouldn’t give to us without our nonprofit status.” She either doesn’t know, or is deliberately lying about, the fact that the IRS permits organizations with pending applications to solicit tax-exempt donations. She also made a remarkable admission that pretty much destroys her entire argument that her operation deserves tax-exempt status at all.
Martin: “It was harassment, pure and simple, to weaken us going into the 2012 election,”
Really? If your concern is that you will be hampered going into an election year, then your activities are unambiguously political and the IRS should immediately deny your application. Martin’s confession that election outcomes are what is driving the alleged harassment is the best argument that the IRS was right to apply stricter scrutiny to her group and others like it.
Not that this would be the first indication that the Tea Party is an overtly political operation and, in fact, nothing more than an arm of the Republican Party. GOP candidate for President, Newt Gingrich called the Tea Party “the militant wing of the Republican Party.” The corrupt Tea Party Express co-hosted a GOP primary debate on CNN. It’s hard to get more political than that.
The WSJ noted the hard times that the Tea Party endured after their brief brush with fame:
By the 2012 election, the tea-party movement was in decline. Its members failed to show up to the polls in sufficient numbers, and many Senate challengers with tea-party backing were defeated. Rep. Michele Bachmann, chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus, barely retained her seat.
When Mrs. Martin toured chapters in California earlier this year, they told her they wanted to drop “tea party” from their names because its brand was tarnished. Mrs. Martin was presiding over a national office full of empty desks and dwindling volunteers and donations—a period she refers to as “frightening” and “disheartening.”.
This is further evidence that their tax-exempt status had nothing to do with their misfortune, because there was no difference in their status in 2012 than in 2010. The dust up over the IRS was itself a purely political tactic, engineered by Rep. Darrell Issa and his GOP cronies in the House of Representatives. And, of course, hyped by their PR division, Fox News. The success of that tactic was heralded by Martin who told the WSJ that “From that moment, the tea party has roared back to life.”
Today the Tea Party is still an unpopular scam devised to advance the interests of the Republican Party and to enrich its principals. It enjoys an outsized measure of influence because GOP leaders in congress are too cowardly to challenge it. But anyone who thinks the Tea Party is a legitimate grassroots operation is being willfully ignorant of the facts – which kind of explains why they still support the Tea Party.