Sen. Jim DeMint speaks during the American Grassroots Coalition and Tea Party Express rally Wednesday on Capitol Hill. DeMint and Rep. Jim Jordan have coordinated on conservative messaging during the debt limit debate.
According to aides familiar with the email group, Teller and other aides routinely used the listserv as a way to gin up opposition to leadership proposals — and not just those from within the House.
A series of emails sent to activists last week, for instance, fired directly at the Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who at the time was attempting to work out an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
“Let’s keep promoting CCB and bashing the McConnell-Reid plan,” Teller wrote, adding that, “I’m now more confident than ever that a final solution cannot come before, say, August 4th or 5th. We MUST get past August 2nd if we conservatives are to win.”
A few days later, on July 20, he again emailed the group, writing to activists and others, “Let’s kill Gang of Six today. Today. Dead.”
Those emails typify Teller’s aggressive language and willingness to attack Republicans, several GOPers said.
“That right there gives you an idea of what we’re dealing with here. I mean, we’re talking about public service here,” a senior GOP aide said.
The aide argued that coordinating on message and revving up conservative activists is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.
“There are a fair amount of conservatives who, by driving the conversation and driving activists, they have changed conversations from what could be pretty tepid to pretty aggressive solutions. ... I mean, we’re talking about trillions of dollars in cuts here. That would have never happened,” the aide said.
“But eventually, you have to figure out what team you’re on,” the aide added, noting that, “If you are fighting your Speaker ... in a war with the president, you have lost focus of what side you are on.”
The situation came to a head in the House on Wednesday, when it was discovered that Teller and other RSC aides were actively working with organizations to defeat Boehner’s proposal and had put together a whip list of undecided lawmakers for conservatives to target.
Several of the Members on the list are also members of the RSC and were none too pleased that their dues were being used to gin up attacks against them, according to numerous lawmakers and staff.
In that email, an RSC junior staffer wrote: “Today is the day to kill the Boehner deal. We need statements coming up to the Hill every hour of the day in mounting opposition to the plan. If we keep this from ever coming to the Floor, we have a greater chance of victory than defeating a vote on the floor.”
In an apparent reference to a previous email from Erickson, the aide continued, “To echo Erick’s email, we need some serious heat up here,” before listing the Republicans whom the activists were to target.
During Wednesday’s Republican Conference meeting, Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.) read the text of an email that Teller sent to outside activists.
According to a copy of the email, Teller wrote: “Guys — not feeling good. Just got out of Conference, and there was a lot of rally-‘round-the-Speaker sentiment, even while admitting the plan was ‘not perfect.’”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.