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The Tea Party: Turning Pro

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Jenny Beth Martin was a housekeeper and Home Depot manager but now has a job as a tea party group coordinator.

Movements on both ends of the political spectrum, from environmentalists to anti-abortion activists, have relied on professional staff to lobby lawmakers and keep grass-roots fervor up.

“The obvious danger is that they can become more interested in keeping the organization going than in the cause,” he added. “The people they are hiring are thinking about the movement for sure, but they are also thinking, ‘This is my job.’ They know if this movement goes belly up, they’ve got to do something else, which may be another job in Washington.”

Clarification: May 9, 2011

While the Tea Party Patriots received a $1 million anonymous contribution before the midterm elections, the group’s leaders say all but $18,000 of that money went directly from the donor to local tea parties in a program administered by the Tea Party Patriots.

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