Politics

Bad blood among Tea Party groups: national Tea Party groups point fingers at egotistical rivals

When it comes to discussing these national groups, the buzz-word among activists is “ego.” Activist Robin Stublen, during an interview in May, said Williams and Meckler’s dislike for each other is “an ego thing.”

“Williams has an ego, Meckler has an ego,” Stublen said then.

When the Tea Party Federation expelled Williams this weekend because of his blog post, Williams blamed the “stronger egos and personalities” of the Tea Party Federation — who see Tea Party Express as competition — for going after him.

Phillips of Tea Party Nation put the rivalries of all the groups this way: “In some instances you have egos playing against each other, in some instances you just have simply different points of view.”

Christina Botteri of the Tea Party Federation called some of the infighting amongst the groups “territorial.” But she refused to speak negatively of the Tea Party Patriots, when asked about Meckler’s criticism that the group is not grassroots: “I’m not interested in getting into it with the Patriots. …To this day, they’re probably one of the best sources of groups in the movement.”

But her group called Williams’ blog post that led to his expulsion from the Tea Party Federation “clearly offensive.” Wierzbicki responded by saying, “Most rank-and-file tea party activists think we’re talking about Star Trek when we try to explain who the ‘Federation’ is.”

Phillips’ Tea Party Nation was a member of the Tea Party Federation, but not for long. “We had a difference in opinion on how things work,” Phillips said. As for the Tea Party Patriots, Phillips said he’s tried to contact them about being involved in October’s second Tea Party Convention in Las Vegas, but haven’t had much luck. “They really don’t work with other groups,” he said.

But Phillips refused to elaborate on those groups. “One of the things that people like about Tea Party Nation is we don’t like to trash other groups,” he said.

But neither Williams nor Meckler — who in requests for comment in the past have refused to speak on-the-record very much about their issues with other organizations — had a problem doing so Monday.

Williams, in an email, forwarded a link to an archive of stories about Meckler receiving GOP money for political work. Meckler, who practiced law in California before devoting much of his time to the organization, denies Williams’ claim that he’s personally profiting from his activism.

“I’ve spent my entire life-savings doing this movement. If I was out to make a buck, I would’ve stayed as a lawyer,” he said.

Meckler says he hopes the Tea Party Express becomes a “footnote in the Tea Party movement,” considering they allowed Williams to chair the organization despite a long-history of being accused of making racial remarks.

“Anybody who claims that they didn’t know what Mark Williams was about, maybe they don’t have a computer. Maybe they don’t know how to use Google,” he said.

Sometimes it appears the groups are working against each other, even though they share similar political goals. During the health care debate, The Daily Caller reported that some members of the Tea Party Patriots had discouraged activists from attending a Tea Party Express rally. The Tea Party Patriots have denied the charge, but the Tea Party Express said it was true.

Said Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell then: “There is some truth to that, sadly.”

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