Taking the Tea Party to King George

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 9 2010 12:14 PM

Taking the Tea Party to King George

Allen McDuffee writes about this week's Taxpayers' Conference and Free Market Roadshow in the U.K., in which the Guardian found a plot by "lobbyists behind the rightwing Tea Party group in the US" to influence British politics. Balderdash, says Cato spokeswoman Khristine Brooks, and McDuffee posts part of her complaint to the Guardian :

First, we receive less than 5 percent of our annual operating budget fromKoch interests, not "tens of millions of dollars."  Second, as anon-profit organization, we have provided no financial support to the TeaParty movement. The only "backing" we've given to the Tea Partymovement might be the policy papers publicly available on our websiteadvocating limited government.  You might also be interested to know thatCato scholars appear more often on the business channel CNBC than they do onthe FOX News Channel.  We do love to appear on FOX News...it's just notaccurate to suggest that FOX is where our scholars do the majority oftheir arguing.  You also refer frequently to Cato has a "rightwing" organization.  Scholars at the Cato Institute, alibertarian organization, have  support ed   gay marriage , increased immigration , and legalized drugs .

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So the Guardian is sexing up the story. Shocking! But the story isn't wrong. The confirmed speakers for the U.K. event include Americans for Prosperity's Tim Phillips, Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Fred Smith. And earlier this year British MEP Daniel Hannan, who became a YouTube star for a speech excoriating then-PM Gordon Brown in the European parliament, worked with Tea Party Patriots for advice on how to organize a British tea party rally. Yes, American Tea Partiers and libertarians are offering help to the like-minded in other countries. It's just that they've been doing this for years and the Guardian only now cares because those pictures of Americans waving "One Big Ass Mistake America" signs are sort of scary.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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