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Tea Party Civil War? Lawsuit, GOP Friction Splits Leaders

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 03:40 PM ET

Tea Party

Some major cracks have emerged in the "Tea Party" movement's leadership.

In October, Amy Kremer, a founder and top staffer for the Tea Party Patriots (whose activists swarmed health care town halls last summer) was forced out of the group for joining a second, more "moderate" Tea Party organization -- the Tea Party Express. Now, the Tea Party Patriots have filed a lawsuit against Kremer and issued a temporary restraining order because she tried to lock down TPP resources on her way out.

The Tea Party Patriots describe the conflict with Kremer as an "intellectual property" dispute. On Kremer's personal blog, (about me: "A genuine Southern Belle with a passion for life, politics and current events... Oh yeah, did I say I am a conservative?!?") she writes that the lawsuit is "frivolous."

It truly saddens me that TPP leadership is expending an enormous amount of time and resources to pursue a frivolous lawsuit against me when this could have been resolved amicably, which I tried to do. Personally, I believe that the people of this movement would not want any time and money focused on a frivolous lawsuit, but would rather have these resources focused on fighting the socialist agenda of the current administration.

Dave Weigel, who has been reporting on this story since it began, noted in October the growing friction between the Tea Party Patriots and the Tea Party Express. The Tea Party Patriots is a grassroots organization, while the Tea Party Express is a more corporate "astroturf" offshoot of the conservative Our Country Deserves Better PAC:

"As an organization, we do our best to be completely nonpartisan," said Mark Meckler, a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. "That's one of things that's allowed us to survive when we were called Republican tools. Tea Party Patriots are very dissatisfied with the Republican Party -- we have nothing against Our Country Deserves Better PAC, but they raise money for Republicans."

If this wasn't enough tea party drama for one day, Eric Odom, a conservative online organizer and key player in forming the original tea party movement last spring, has announced he's re-joining the Republican Party.

Though Odom has no intention of supporting the current crop of Republicans (and proudly asserts that he will work to defeat many of them), he is making his 2010 stand from within the Republican Party, "Love or hate the Republican Party, it's our only vessel in the short term. We either unify through it and make a stand strong enough to stop this madness in government, or we fracture over third party efforts and meet uncertain political demise."
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