The Great Congressional Orientation Disaster of 2010

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 15 2010 10:25 AM

The Great Congressional Orientation Disaster of 2010

Matt Lewis has the statement Tea Party Patriots released to members to explain what, exactly, was the point of the group handing out the cell phones and e-mail addresses of incoming members of Congress, in a statement that anyone could find online, to encourage them not to attend certain orientation events.

Finally, to those who are critical of our efforts, we'd like to ask where they have been when tea partiers across the country have had their personal phone numbers and addresses posted by others. Both Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler have had personal private information posted online, including home addresses and phone numbers. Those who are complaining that congressmen had their personal phone numbers and email addresses listed so that constituents could reach them, didn't express a bit out outrage at the egregious invasion of Jenny Beth's and Mark's privacy. And Jenny Beth and Mark didn't go to the media complaining about it.
The "going to the media complaining" part refers to stories like this one , in which Molly Hooper quotes three incoming members of Congress -- including Allen West, whose connections to the Tea Party really couldn't be stronger -- pissed off and alienated by the TPP e-mail. On Snday I was forwarded an e-mail co-signed by dozens of local Tea Party leaders, written to inform incoming members that, no, THEY are not part of the group that melted their voicemail inboxes.

On behalf of the tens of thousands of grassroots activists represented  by the signatories to this letter, we do not agree with the phone calls  and emails some of you have received in the past week prompted by  an email sent out by the national leadership of the Tea Party Patriots  about your attendance at their "orientation" this coming week. This email was an embarrassment. The circulation of some of your private  cell phone numbers and emails was inexcusable.

The leaders within this grassroots movement want the incoming  Freshmen Members of Congress to know that the actions from earlier  this week are not representative of the entire tea party movement, but  are a result of a few leaders from Tea Party Patriots. Their actions are  certainly not representative of the overall principles and mission of the  movement. 

Among the signatories: Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express. Kremer left TPP in 2009 over that group's annoyance at TPE, which it considered a Republican front group.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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