JUNEAU, Alaska — A Tea Party Express coordinator said Monday the group’s expulsion from a national coalition over a member’s blog posting about the NAACP was “arrogant and preposterous.”
Tea Party Express was expelled from the National Tea Party Federation, a coalition of grass-roots political groups, for refusing to publicly rebuke and oust spokesman Mark Williams.
Williams had posted a blog that satirized the NAACP and referred to its president Benjamin Jealous as “Tom’s nephew and NAACP head colored person.”
The NAACP approved a resolution last week that calls on activists and others to “repudiate the racist element and activities” within the tea party movement.
Tea Party Express coordinator Joe Wierzbicki claimed the federation had “enabled and empowered the NAACP’s racist attacks on the tea party movement, and they should be ashamed of themselves.”
“Circular firing squads of groups within the tea party movement attacking one another accomplish nothing, and on this issue the Tea Party Federation is wrong,” he said in a statement.
Christina Botteri, a founding member of the federation, said it was “interested in moving the whole Mark Williams thing behind us,” to focus on fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets.
Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer, who joined other members in Anchorage to discuss plans to help U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Miller, sought to distance the group from Williams, a former chairman who remained listed on the group’s website as a spokesman.
Kremer didn’t say whether Williams would continue in that role.
“While Mark Williams may speak on behalf of us in some circumstances, in some situations, and we may agree on some things, this is not one of the things that we agree upon,” she said. “And Mark Williams is speaking on his own behalf, and his own behalf only.”
Kremer said Tea Party Express does not condone racism of any kind.
The group, through its political action committee, expects to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Miller take on U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in next month’s GOP primary.
The group also helped Sharron Angle overcome her long-shot status to win Nevada’s GOP primary. Angle is set to face Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November.
Miller, a Fairbanks attorney making his first statewide run for public office, has been working to raise his profile against Murkowski, a well-known, better financed incumbent.
Miller reported having about $125,000 in campaign funding on hand as of June 30, compared to Murkowski’s nearly $2.4 million.
Miller also has the endorsement of Sarah Palin, whose political action committee has reportedly given Miller $5,000.
Bauer said he didn’t consider Tea Party Express to be a distraction for Miller.
“We’re not getting involved in what they’re doing,” he said.
The Associated Press