Tea Party Express reportedly took thousands in donations from dead woman

Chris Moody Contributor
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Tea Party Express, a California-based political action committee that ran dozens of ads for conservative candidates in the last election cycle, received thousands of dollars in donations from a woman who has been dead for nearly four years, according to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Joan Snyder Holmes, (formerly) of Guam, reportedly donated up to $2,500 to the conservative PAC in 2009 and another $5,000 in 2010 despite being dead since Feb. 1, 2007. Her husband, businessman Lee Holmes is a well-known donor to political causes, but denies any wrong doing.

“I made a number of Tea Party donations, but used my own personal credit cards,” Holmes told the Center’s OpenSecrets Blog.  “Whether I made donations on those dates and they entered them [under her name] in error, I don’t know.”

A spokesman for the Tea Party Express said the group would look into the donations.

“We just learned about this yesterday, and are in the process of investigating to find out what the issue is,” Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell told The Daily caller in an email. “Once we discover what has happened we can take appropriate corrective action, if any is needed.

Judson Phillips, the founder and CEO of the conservative group Tea Party Nation, questioned the motive behind why the Center for Responsive Politics would investigate Tea Party Express given the millions of donations made each election cycle.

“This whole thing smacks of some type of gotcha story,” Phillips told TheDC. “I’d certainly like to know more but that is my initial impression.”

The Department of Justice levies severe penalties for any group or individual that knowingly makes illegal campaign donations, including up to five years in prison and fines.