Back in October I reported on some of the Tea Party groups’ annoyance with Our Country Deserves Better and its Tea Party Express project, a flashy effort that some original Tea Party organizers viewed as a shell game for Republican consultants. Talking Points Memo followed up on that with a look at the group’s payouts to consultants. Then, the TPE’s Joe Weirzbicki responded to Robert Stacy McCain by arguing that the “vast majority of that money was to reimburse Russo Marsh + Associates for the efforts where we fronted the money in our capacity as the organizers of the Tea Party Express.”
Regardless, TPE remains a deeply controversial project for some Tea Party organizers. Robin Stublin, an original Tea Party organizer who has quit Tea Party Patriots in order to keep that group out of this fight, is going straight after TPE, pointing out that its expenses on food and consultant fees are far out of whack with the needs of a real grassroots group. One outrage that he pointed out to me and to Stephanie Mencimer was “$1,597.29 over the summer for a meal for six at a tony Sacramento Chops restaurant.”
Stublin is working hard to get out the message about TPE’s buckraking; he even criticized Deborah Johns, a “marine mom” who has presented herself as a sort of pro-war answer to Cindy Sheehan, with a son who (contrary to Fox News) is still alive.
“I honor, respect, and appreciate every person who’s served in armed forces,” said Stublin. “But if I’m a parent and I take money like this, I think I dishonor that sacrifice.”