There is already a disturbing trend of profiteering among the Tea Party movement, from Glenn Beck’s Goldline scheme to conferences that cost $550 per ticket. Another such scheme unraveled in Ohio today, involving a discount program for Tea Party members at businesses near Dayton. Local businessman Donald Hutchison, who will speak at the Tea Party gathering in Washington, DC on Sept. 11, started the “Tea Party Exchange” last year, in which about 30 local businesses agreed to give discounts to local Tea Party members. The businesses, which believed they would see increased patronage, paid $150 to participate in the program. Yesterday, however, Hutchison abruptly shut down the program, and there is “no word” on whether the participating businesses will get their money back. Bill DeFries, owner of the local Beef O’Brady’s Family Sports Club and participant in the Tea Party exchange, is not pleased:
“I feel like I was hoodwinked,” said DeFries. “I think he was trying to make money.”
“I think he should refund everybody their money, including me,” said DeFries, who didn’t get a single TPX customer since he joined June 1.