The beautiful sights of Miami Beach
WND has rejected sponsorship of its "Taking America Back National Conference" in Miami next month by the Florida Tea Party after an investigation of the group concluded it was misrepresenting itself.
"We are returning the money this group paid for sponsoring the conference and rejecting its participation," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. "This event and the tea-party movement are not about making money. They are about changing the direction of our country. It's clear to me that the Florida Tea Party movement has an agenda all its own."
Unlike the estimated 90 grass-roots tea-party groups in the state, the Florida Tea Party is fielding candidates under its banner. The grass-roots activists fear Florida Tea Party candidates will give Democratic Party
candidates such as Rep. Alan Grayson an advantage by siphoning
conservative votes from Republican opponents.
According to published reports today, including in the Orlando Sentinel, several legal challenges have been launched by Don Hensarling, the Florida director of the 912 Project and a self-described "proud Republican," to the Florida Tea Party, which registered itself with state election officials and is fielding some 20 candidates in state and federal elections, including three key House races. The lawsuits allege election-law violations.
The Sentinel report said activists in the state's tea-party movement have alleged the Florida Tea Party is confusing voters by co-opting the tea-party name and running candidates under its name.
"The [party] appears to be an organized effort to confuse and mislead
conservative voters and is not a part of the real tea-party movement," Hensarling, also a state tea-party activist who filed the lawsuits
announced in a news release obtained by the paper.
The Orlando paper also cited an investigation by WKMG-TV in Orlando alleging financial links between Grayson and a co-founder of the Florida Tea Party, longtime political consultant and antitax activist Doug Guetzloe.
Goetzloe insisted to WND the only connection is Grayson's purchase of advertising on his radio show, "The Guetzloe Report." Guetzloe points to his "tea party bona fides" dating back to 1997. He's founder of the antitax group Ax the Tax, which, he says, has saved Florida taxpayers some $11 billion. He has served as co-chair
of the Central Florida Tea Party, he argues, and attended multiple tea-party events. He has promoted all tea-party events on his radio show, he notes.
A leader in the state tea-party movement, Tom Tillison of the Tea Party Patriots Live radio show and the Orlando Tea Party, told WND he and other tea-party leaders in the state with whom he regularly communicates think the Florida Tea Party was set up to split the conservative vote and keep Democrats like Grayson in office.
In the legal actions, the Florida cases claim there are problems with the election paperwork of four of the Florida Tea Party members: Peg Dunmire, who is challenging Grayson; Dunmire's son, Darrin, in state House District 40; Dunmire's housemate, Juanita Virone, in state House District 35; and Jonathan Foley, in state House District 41.
Peg Dunmire has explained, the Sentinel said, she paid for other candidates' filing fees. But the complaints allege the transactions are considered campaign contributions, which is forbidden before campaigns open their own accounts.
The cases seek to allow Hensarling and others to take testimony from the candidates and examine their bank records to look for proof of an election-law violation, the newspaper said.
Grayson, in a statement to the paper, compared the Republican Party of Florida to "a dying iguana with an arrow through its skull. It was thrashing around in a way very much like the Republican Party of Florida does today."
Politico has reported allegations of links between tea-party factions and Democrats in several other states. FoxNews.com has published a similar report, citing cases in New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada as well as Florida.
Farah said the scheduled conference in Miami will focus on the real issues.
"We hope real tea-party groups all across Florida and the U.S. join us in Miami next month to celebrate the political rebirth of this country and help us strategize about the future," he said.
Media interested in the conference, please e-mail WND.