Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest coalitions of tea party advocates, released to supporters the personal cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses of freshman Republican Members who the group thinks are in danger of being “co-opted” by D.C. insiders.
In an e-mail to supporters that was also posted Thursday on IronMill.com, Tea Party Patriots leader Jenny Beth Martin accused the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank, of trying to lure the freshman lawmakers away from the tea party movement by hosting orientation programs that conflict with those scheduled by the tea party group.
“We need you to call & e-mail these incoming Congressmen & tell them you want them to attend YOUR Tea Party Patriots event,” she wrote.
Both orientations are scheduled for this weekend.
“The water in the Potomac is infected with the politics of the past and needs to be boiled to be cleansed and then steeped in fresh tea,” Martin wrote. “You are the fresh tea. Today we need your help.”
She encouraged readers to call or e-mail their Members directly to “show them that you won’t tolerate politics as usual and show them the power of the Tea Party.”
The phone numbers appear to be authentic. One call placed by Roll Call to the number listed next to newly elected Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) went to his voicemail. Another call placed to the number listed next to Rep.-elect Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) indicated it had been changed.
Rep.-elect David McKinley (R-W.Va.) answered a call to his phone, saying, “I guess I’m going to have to get used to this.” He said he “religiously did not give out” his personal cell phone number on the campaign trail. He hadn’t heard about the release of the phone numbers, but he added that he had his phone off most of the day and hadn’t received many calls.
Brian Kennedy, president of the Claremont Institute, said he’s been getting harassing calls.
“After a mass e-mail was sent out calling for Tea Party members to harass me, effectively, I have received many nasty and threatening calls saying we should ‘stand down’ and that ‘they have my number,’” he wrote in an e-mail.
Many Members of the incoming class of Republicans received strong backing from tea party groups and campaigned heavily on an anti-Washington platform.