Monday, January 18, 2010

Tea Party turmoil erupts as volunteers quit

The national Tea Party convention scheduled to take place in Nashville next month — featuring Sarah Palin as its keynote speaker — fell into turmoil last week. ea Party Nation, the locally based group organizing the sold-out event, got its first taste of trouble Tuesday when a key volunteer announced he and others had quit the group. They claimed the event's $549 ticket price was designed to make a profit off the popularity of the grass-roots campaign. By week's end, the national media were putting intense pressure on founder Judson Phillips after Tea Party Nation announced that only five, right-leaning media outlets would be allowed access to the event. NBC News reported Friday, and The Tennessean confirmed, that Phillips, a Franklin attorney, had filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy in 1999 and faced three federal tax liens since 2004 totaling more than $22,000. Phillips said in an interview with The Tennessean that Tea Party Nation had been set up as a for-profit company but denied allegations of profiteering. Phillips said he founded Tea Party Nation as a for-profit company mainly for philosophical reasons. The for-profit corporation lets him avoid disclosure requirements that might have forced him to reveal the identity of donors, who then could be subjected to harassment for their views, Phillips more

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