Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported on the rise of “Tea Party Profiteers” — Republican operatives who are exploiting the tea party movement to make money and funnel volunteers to Republican campaigns. The profiteers tap into legitimate feelings of anger and distrust among many struggling Americans, but then steer people into organizations set up to make money off of them.
Sarah Palin has been under fire for demanding fees of at least $100,000 for her speeches to tea party groups. Defending her role as a profiteer, Palin wrote in USA Today yesterday afternoon that she would continue to participate in the scandal-plagued Tea Party Convention — a for-profit venture demanding a $550 ticket price and featuring a Madison Avenue fashion firm selling tea party jewelry — this weekend. Palin said her $120,000 payment for speaking at the convention will “go right back to the cause.” But just as she promised not to profit off her appearance this weekend, she announced her participation in another Republican tea party scam:
But participation won’t be limited to those in Nashville who have a ticket. It’s much bigger than that. [...] I will not benefit financially from speaking at this event. My only goal is to support the grassroots activists who are fighting for responsible, limited government — and our Constitution. In that spirit, any compensation for my appearance will go right back to the cause. [...] This weekend, it’s Nashville, but in March, I’ll head to Searchlight, Nev., for the kickoff rally at the Tea Party Express III.
The “Tea Party Express III” is a gimmick of the Republican public relations firm Russo, Marsh and Rogers (RMR). RMR has worked on several stealth campaigns for Republican clients, including the underhanded push to recall Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA). The Tea Party Express, which RMR staffers operate, has proved to be a cash cow for RMR — in 2009 alone, it plunged at least $1,025,559 of money it raised back into RMR’s coffers. Last summer, Alex Brant-Zawadzki reported that consultants for RMR conspired to plan a tea party Caribbean cruise. According to e-mails obtained by Brant-Zawadzki, the consultants planned to raise $200,000 for the cruise, then “pocket the [remaining] $150,000 in profit.”
Palin is the epitome of a Tea Party Profiteer. After abruptly resigning as Governor of Alaska, Palin has aggressively sold her ghost-written book, signed up as a paid pundit on Fox News, and made hundreds of thousands through paid speeches. Although the original Boston tea party protested the hegemony of the London-based East India Trading company over the colonies, Palin has spent most of her political career defending multinational corporations and was dumbfounded when asked a simple question about the founding fathers. Palin portrays herself as a humble public servant and an admirer of the American revolution, but it appears she is simply out to make money and amass personal power.