Politics

Tea Party Nation founder not ‘shocked’ by DOJ, Media Matters collusion

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips told The Daily Caller that he hopes Mitt Romney wins the presidential election in November so the Department of Justice can be changed from the inside out.

Phillips, one target of a collaborative relationship between Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and the left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America, said he wasn’t not surprised to learn he was in their cross hairs.

“I wish I could say I am shocked by this,” Phillips said in an email. “I am not. The Department of Justice needs to remember their mission is to enforce the laws of this nation and protect its citizens, not be the propaganda arm for the Obama Regime. Hopefully a Romney Department of Justice will do some serious house cleaning.”

Emails obtained by TheDC through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which TheDC published on Tuesday, showDOJ Office of Public Affairs Director Tracy Schmaler, Holder’s top press defender, and Media Matters staffers working together to attack reporters covering DOJ scandals. (RELATED: Emails reveal Justice Dept. regularly enlists Media Matters to spin press)

Schmaler reached out to Media Matters’ Matt Gertz on March 12, 2012, seemingly to suggest an article attacking Phillips for his public comments about the gunwalking operation called Operation Fast and Furious. At the time, Phillips was pressing GOP leadership to take action on the gunwalking scandal. During a Fox News Channel interview, Phillips said Fast and Furious “should be investigated, but we also have to remember the program itself was a partisan program.”

“This was never a law enforcement sting, as you described it earlier. This was purely a political operation,” Phillips added during the Fox segment. (RELATED: Complete coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)

“You send the guns down to Mexico, therefore you support the political narrative that the Obama administration wanted supported; that all these American guns are flooding Mexico; that they’re the cause of the violence in Mexico and therefore we need draconian gun control laws here in America. So because the whole operation itself was political, yes, by all means Congress should be all over this.”

Schmaler obtained a transcript of Phillips’ whole broadcast segment and sent it to Gertz in an 11:55 a.m. email on March 12, asking, “You see this?”

“[C]ompletely false,” Schmaler wrote of Phillips’ allegation. “[W]ide receiver and Hernandez put this to a lie. There’s been lots of coverage on previous bush operations…”

“Thanks,” Gertz responded one minute later.

“Hernandez” was a reference to Fidel Hernandez, the subject of DOJ’s first — and failed — attempt to direct a “controlled delivery of weapons” across the Mexican border by arms traffickers for the purpose of tracking them to their eventual destination.

At 4:05 p.m. the same day Gertz and Schmaler exchanged emails about Judson Phillips, Media Matters’ Chris Brown wrote a blog entry attacking Phillips for his televised appearance.

“Not surprisingly, Phillips spent the interview promoting the right-wing conspiracy theory that Fast and Furious was a plot to promote gun control instead of a failed law enforcement investigation,” Brown wrote. He then added a mention of what Schmaler had emailed: “Further, Phillips refers to Fast and Furious as a ‘partisan program’ despite the fact that Bush-era investigations featured similar ‘gun walking’ tactics as those used in Fast and Furious.”

Seven minutes after Brown’s blog post appeared online, Gertz sent the full text in an email to Schmaler with the headline, “FYI.”

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