He added that he was unaware of any problems related to Agora. “We would not knowingly sell advertising to someone who is doing something fraudulent or illegal,” Phillips said, noting that the advertisement was not an endorsement of Agora’s products.
The ad marked a more aggressive turn toward advertising for Tea Party Nation, which in the past has faced criticism for profiting off the movement. Some Tea Party Nation members complained to Phillips that they mistook the ad as editorial content because of how it was designed. Phillips said that it was the first time he tried the ad format and that he was able to allay concerns raised by his supporters.
The group’s ad money offsets its expenses, including Phillips’ salary and travel expenses, a model that he defends.
“We put advertising on the site. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to be part of the site,” Phillips said. “We live in a free-market society.”