FreedomWorks, Tea Party Express develop new technology, methods to keep grassroots connected

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Tea Party groups FreedomWorks and Tea Party Express are both rolling out some new technology to keep grassroots conservatives connected with each other and with their elected leaders in Washington.

FreedomWorks launched FreedomConnect, a geo-location-driven social networking service for conservatives around the country. FreedomWorks director of federal and state campaigns Brendan Steinhauser told The Daily Caller it’s comparable to President Barack Obama’s campaign web initiative, mybarackobama.com, but goes a few steps further.

“It takes things like MyBarackObama.com and Facebook and combines them into something much more effective. This takes the concept of local organizing and knocks down all the walls associated with that,” Steinhauser said in a phone interview. “Instead of everyone having to trade business cards at a meeting and email each other, now they can get on FreedomConnect and you create your profile. Similar to other social networking sites, you can connect with them, but it’s all based on geography.”

Steinhauser, a community organizing and grassroots specialist, said communication between local people around the country has been a huge issue for conservatives, and that this new social networking service will increase the Tea Party’s organizational ability.

“As a grassroots guy, I’ve been doing this for five years at FreedomWorks,” Steinhauser said in a phone interview. “Even before the Tea Party movement, I started to notice the biggest problem I had with organizing out of the states was there was an inability for people to connect locally. FreedomWorks and Tea Party groups couldn’t communicate online in an effective way unless they created their own Facebook groups.”

Steinhauser said that FreedomConnect ties conservatives around the country together, so different groups in nearby areas can communicate with each other and members don’t have to go through “official” channels like group organizers to contact like-minded activists.

Tea Party Express is taking a bit of a different approach with new technology. The group is holding a Tea Party town hall event on Tuesday night, at which attendees in person and web-viewers around the country can ask questions of notable Tea Party-minded members of Congress. Reps. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, and Steve King, Iowa Republican, and Sens. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, and Mike Lee, Utah Republican, will solicit questions at the event via webcam, Facebook and Twitter from Americans nationwide.

Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell told TheDC that the members will take webcam-submitted questions in real-time, and for anyone in Washington, D.C., the event is open to the public.

“The purpose is to continue the Tea Party movement after the election last year, and, in doing that, to connect the elected officials that we in the Tea Party worked hard to put into office with the people who are back home supporting them,” Russell said in a phone interview. “[It will focus on] number one, how these members of Congress are being effective and, number two, how these activists back home can support them by making phone calls to other leaders or being involved in the legislative process to whatever extent they can.”

The event will be at the National Press Club on Tuesday night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and more information can be found at TeaPartyExpress.org and TeaPartyHD.com. Those planning to attend are told to RSVP to james.tpx@gmail.com.