Tea Party activists from across the country have come to Washington for a three-week long “Take The Town Halls to Washington” rally, an effort to lobby undecided House Democrats to vote against health care reform. At a press conference for the event on Friday, the Daily Caller spotted signs and buttons clearly paid for by the Republican National Committee. Activists distributed “red-white-and-blue buttons and signs emblazoned with the words ‘Listen to Me!’” — an official RNC slogan — with disclaimers at the bottom of the signs reading “Paid for by the Republican National Committee:”
Michael Patrick Leahy, an organizer of the Take the Town Halls to Washington project that is bringing Tea Party activists to the capital to lobby Democrats on President Obama’s health-care bill, admitted that the RNC “did provide the signage,” but said he didn’t know the details of the arrangement with Republicans and couldn’t explain how the signs got there. “They just showed up,” he said.
An RNC official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Daily Caller that the signs were given to the group at its request. […]
Leahy downplayed the significance of the items, explaining, “We’re taking help from anybody that has an interest in this cause.”
The Tea Party movement claims to be an independent, grass roots coalition unrelated to either party, but this is not the first time activists have been caught using materials or logistical support provided by Republican operatives or Republican-aligned corporate front groups. For example, many large Tea Party protests have used signs and buses provided by groups like Americans for Prosperity.
David Weigel reports that the “paid for by RNC” language has now been blacked out.