Trouble in Tea Party Land

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Goodness. Even as they're feverishly calling Blanche Lincoln to try to "Kill" the health care bill, the Tea Party Patriots are being roiled by a juicy internal conflict.

TPP's lawyers are apparently none too happy that Amy Kremer continues to project a leadership role in the group after her ouster from the TPP board, and in particular take exception to Kremer's suggestion that "patriots" use the promise and/or threat of campaign contributions as leverage in their discussions with Senate staffers, which, to read between the lines of the carefully worded legalese below, may not be copacetic with Tea Party Patriot's 501(c)4 tax status.

[UPDATE: Indeed, the IRS prohibits a 501(c)4 organization from such campaign activity: "The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office." ]

Check out this October 8 missive from the Tea Party Patriots official "National Coordinator" Jenny Beth Martin, obtained by Rolling Stone:

From: Jenny Beth Martin

Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2009 12:08:22 -0400

Local: Thurs, Oct 8 2009 9:08 am

Subject: Correction

We are sending out this email on the advise [sic] of counsel.

This email is being sent out on behalf of the Board of Directors of Tea Party Patriots, Inc. ("TPP"). TPP wishes to confirm for its supporters that Amy Kremer was removed from the TPP Board effective September 27, 2009. Accordingly, since Ms. Kremer is no longer a board member or National Coordinator of TPP, and she does not have authority to speak on behalf of TPP. Any communications or emails that you have received from her since September 27, 2009 were sent in her individual capacity, are her own responsibility, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TPP. It has come to the attention to the TPP Board of Directors that Ms. Kremer sent out an email last night urging TPP supporters to contact certain U.S. Senators. The email also urged TPP supporters to mention potential campaign contributions in their communications with the Senators. Please note that these comments were not authorized or endorsed by TPP, and do not reflect the views of TPP. In addition, TPP strongly encourages its supports to refrain from discussing potential campaign contributions when discussing public policy issues with elected officials. TPP is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, and it abides by all laws, regulations, and rules governing 501(c)(4) corporations, including the regulations and restrictions on lobbying and campaign activity. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jenny Beth Martin at jXXXXXm@gmail or (NEW PHONE NUMBER) 770-XXX-XXXX.

Jenny Beth Martin

On Behalf of the Tea Party Patriots Board of Directors:

Debbie Dooley

Mike Gaske

Kellen Giuda

Ryan Hecker

Jenny Beth Martin

Mark Meckler

Rob Neppell

Sallie Oljar

Diana Reimer

Billie Tucker

Dawn Wildman

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