Monday, March 9, 2015
Let's get this out of the way right away. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of a Tea Party. I've never been to a Tea Party meeting. I don't even drink tea. I know many people who have been involved with the Tea Party in one way or another, and many of them are fine people who care about their country, but choose to show it in a different way than I do.
But then there are the others.
Shortly after the Tea Party came to prominence in 2009, a number of opportunists rushed to take advantage of a new flood of people into the political process. At the national level, old groups like FreedomWorks wrapped themselves in the Tea Party label and started raising boatloads of cash.
At the local and regional level, scores of groups popped up, taking advantage of the fact that the Tea Party movement was intentionally decentralized, with no real national leader.
Here in Minnesota, two opportunists in particular have done a great job of establishing themselves as self-appointed "leaders" of the Tea Party movement, they being Jack Rogers and Jake Duesenberg of the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance. They have a sweet URL that makes them seem extra legit, teaparty.mn and they operate the MN Tea Party PAC.
Jack and Jake haven't been as successful as the guys from FreedomWorks, only raising $8,200 in 2014. They spent $8,900. The irony of the deficit spending is probably lost on them. A total of $0 was spent to support the election of any candidates. They did spend $1,300 on a wi-fi hostspot, $1,110 on Facebook ads, and just shy of $1,000 to Constant Contact for emails.
Over $1,700 of their expenses (an atypically high 19%) are unitemized, probably either because of their overwhelming commitment to transparency, or because it's none of the government's business how they spend their money. Just guessing on that last part.
Credit where credit is due, Jack and Jake may not raise a lot of money, but they have perfected the art of over the top symbolic gestures as a way to generate media coverage. As just one example Jack was behind an aborted attempt in 2014 to orchestrate a meaningless show vote of "No Confidence" in then Minority Leader, now Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt. A quick search of the Star Tribune archives shows Jack has been mentioned in 12 recent stories, Jake, sadly, only 6. In most of these stories you can find Jack and Jake bad mouthing Republicans. About the only candidate they seemed to like in 2014 was Jeff Johnson. Take from that what you will.
Jack and Jake's most recent stunt was an over-the-top tantrum aimed at notorious RINO Tom Emmer. Emmer, you see, chose to attend an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march in Selma. Or as Jack put it: "a parade in Alabama."
You see, Jack and Jake would have preferred that Congressman Emmer instead attended a small gathering of local Republican activists, so those activists could yell at him about how he is a sell-out who hates the constitution or something because Emmer didn't commit career suicide in his first vote in Congress by voting against John Boehner for Speaker of the House and/or didn't think gambling with the safety of the nation was a good strategic move.
During the 2014 US Senate campaign Jack and Jake infamously told US Senate candidate Mike McFadden to "Go to Hell" during a meeting.
I think it's high time Republicans say the same thing to Jack and Jake. No serious candidate for office or elected official should attend any event sponsored by the MN Tea Party Alliance. The group seems to exist for the sole purpose of promoting Jack and Jake. It's time other Republicans stop playing along.