The upcoming Tea Party National Conference has been reeling from reports of infighting amongst the rival Tea Bagger groups. Much of the controversy concerns the convention’s steep ($549.00) entry fee and allegations of financial improprieties on the part of the organizers. The convention has already lost a number of sponsors.
Well now their problems are multiplying as two of their featured speakers have canceled on them. Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Michele Bachmann have advised the Tea Party Nation, who are organizing the event, that they will be unable to attend. According to a press release from the Tea Party Nationalists, the cancellation was precipitated by congressional ethics rules:
“Due to a review of the for profit status of the event, the [ethics] committee could not authorize them to speak as the use of any proceeds from the event had not yet been established.”
That explanation is suspicious at best. First of all, the assertion that the Ethics Committee “could not authorize” the appearance doesn’t jibe with the committee’s function. It sounds more like the representatives are laying off blame on the committee to evade their own responsibility for ducking out of a shady booking. Secondly, a GOP aide cited last week’s Supreme Court decision in Citizen’s United vs. FEC as the reason for ditching the affair. That’s patently absurd. If anything, the decision broadened the ability to associate with groups that contribute to campaigns, but in truth, the decision didn’t even address groups like the Tea Party Nation. So it appears the their actual reasons for canceling are likely different than their official ones.
With the departure of Blackburn and Bachmann, Sarah Palin is the convention’s only star attraction (unless you count the editor of WorldNetDaily or Judge Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore). And her participation is perhaps tenuous as well. Some Tea Party activists are unhappy with her role in the dubious affair and are calling on her quit (the one thing she’s good at). There is a very real fear that Palin will speak before a sparsely populated house. In fact, the Tea Party Nation web site currently has this announcement posted in all caps:
THE FIRST NATIONAL TEA PARTY CONVENTION IS SOLD OUT BUT TICKETS TO THE BANQUET WITH GOV. PALIN ARE STILL AVAILABLE!!!!!
Apparently Palin isn’t the draw that her public relations agency would have us believe. Faced with the embarrassing prospect of a low turnout, combined with the pressure from fellow Tea Baggers to withdraw, Palin may come down with a bad cold next week. That would leave the organizers in a bit of bind. And since Palin was forced to promise that her reported $100,000.00 speaking fee would not benefit her personally, forgoing it wouldn’t hurt her and wouldn’t dissuade her from walking away.
Assuming the gig goes off as planned, Andrew Breitbart is scheduled to introducing Palin. The timing couldn’t be better for planting the Godfather of pimp and possible felon, James O’Keefe, on the stage with the Queen Tea Bagger. Breitbart has also been approached as a replacement for Blackburn.
All in all, this seems like an event that is not to be missed – that is if you can’t get tickets to the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Hey, maybe they could get Larry the Cable Guy to fill in for Palin.
Palin Responds: Greta Van Susteren asked Palin if she still intends to speak at the Tea Party Conference.
“Oh, you betcha I’m going to be there. I’m going to speak there because there are people traveling from many miles away to hear what that tea party movement is all about and what that message is that should be received by our politicians in Washington. I’m honored to get to be there.”
And the hundred grand doesn’t hurt either.