House Democratic leaders on Wednesday shrugged off GOP efforts to turn April 15 into a day of nationwide tea parties aimed at protesting tax hikes and wasteful spending by Democrats.Several Republican lawmakers spent the day attending Boston Tea Party-styled rallies to protest increased federal spending and borrowing. The fact that thousands of people took part in the events shows that the American people know we can't spend and tax our way back to a growing economy, said House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.).But in an interview on Fox TV in San Francisco, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) chalked up the GOP grass-roots effort as AstroTurf.This initiative is funded by the high end; we call it AstroTurf, it's not really a grass-roots movement. It's AstroTurf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class, Pelosi said.Other House Democratic leaders took a different tact: One senior aide has been circulating a document to the media that debunks the effort as one driven by corporate lobbyists and attended by neo-Nazis. The tea parties are not really spontaneous since they are overseen by two D.C.-based corporate front groups, reads the document. Those groups are FreedomWorks, which is run by former House Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey (Texas), and Americans for Prosperity, a group funded largely by the oil industry, according to the document.In addition, the tea parties are not really all about average citizens, the document continues, saying neo-Nazis, militias, secessionists and racists are attending them. The tea parties are also not peaceful, since reporters in Cincinnati had to seek police protection during one of the events, it states.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.