Would a true Tea Party patriot drop nearly $1,600 in donor money for a small meal at a fancy steakhouse? Robin Stublen says no, and he's mad as hell about the profligate expenditures of a GOP political organization that has glommed on to his grassroots movement. Stublen is the organizer of the Punta Gorda, Florida, Tea Party and a member of Tea Party Patriots, a national grassroots organization that has no offices, no president, raises virtually no money, operates largely on volunteer efforts, and, most importantly, doesn't endorse candidates. But unbeknownst to many, there's another outfit claiming ownership of this conservative movement. It's called the Tea Party Express, and it has dominated Fox News coverage over the past year with its multi-state bus tours and political rallies.
Behind it is a well-established Republican political action committee that has raked in tons of money fundraising under the "Tea Party" banner--and it has also spent a lot of that money in a fashion unbecoming a supposedly grassroots insurrection. For instance, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, the PAC that created Tea Party Express dropped $1,597.29 over the summer for a meal for six at a tony Sacramento Chops restaurant, an expenditure that has Stublen seeing red.