The first-ever national Tea Party Convention, slated to begin Thursday at the Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville, has drawn numerous attacks among the conservative grassroots and seemed to falter over the past week as two of its marquee speakers, Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) pulled out.
Now, its organizers have spoken out.
"Judson and I have stayed silent in the face of intense media scrutiny and attacks by former members," Sherry Phillips, wife of the convention's chief originator, wrote in an e-mail to members Saturday. "We will stay silent no longer."
The Phillips-owned group Tea Party Nation, which is organizing the event, sent a note to supporters on Saturday, hitting back at criticisms and addressing reasons why various sponsors have dropped affiliations, why the lawmakers won't be speaking, why former members have been banned, its relationship with a business loan originator and a for-profit former sponsor, and its PayPal account.
And they say they are not running the operation for profit: they expect to break even (maybe with a few thousand dollars left over to help run their group), they say, and that Tea Party Nation is incorporated as a C corporation but is run as a non-profit.