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.
Teller’s email went on to complain about the process outlined in the closed meeting, noting that the “bill text will be available tonight and will likely be on the floor Wednesday morning, in clear violation of the 3-day layover rule. The CCB pledge is nowhere to be found in any of these deliberations.”
Walden — who bluntly told Teller that he was “privileged” to be in the meeting — then lit into the aide, saying, “You should not use that privilege to tear down this team for outside organizations.”
Walden then demanded that Teller explain himself. But — in a move that shocked Members and staff who were present — Teller refused.
Jordan apologized for the emails during the meeting, and in a statement, RSC Communications Director Brian Straessle also apologized.
“This action was clearly inappropriate and was not authorized by the Chairman or any other members of the staff. This has never been — and never will be — the way we do business at the RSC,” Straessle said.
But Republicans dismissed the notion that Jordan was unaware of what his staffers were using the email list for. “Jim Jordan knew exactly what he was doing,” one Republican lawmaker said Wednesday.
The RSC action also rankled Republicans in the Senate.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said he believes it was “wrong” for the RSC to go after Members.
“I don’t think anything that represents a body, which that group certainly does, has the authority or a right to go out and target en masse people like that,” Burr said.
DeMint’s spokesman, though, was unapologetic. “Sen. DeMint strongly supports RSC Chairman Jim Jordan and the things he is doing. He thinks he is doing the job that he was elected to do, which is to fight for conservative policies,” Denton said regarding the RSC fracas.
And DeMint still enjoys the support of new Members he helped elect.
“I think he has been both a friend and someone we feel like we can work with toward really trying to fix some serious problems up here,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said.
DeMint backed Paul in his primary victory over Trey Grayson, who was supported by McConnell.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said, “We have naturally coalesced, and he is a natural leader.”
“The only power we have is the power of these ideas that voters are demanding to change and reform Washington,” Denton said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.