BREAKING: Tea Party Nation’s Judson Phillips: “I Want To Make A Million From This Movement”

January 15, 2010 / 6:18 pm • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier

Embattled Tea Party Nation, Inc. owner Judson Phillips has been making the media rounds to defend his up-coming, February 4-6 conference at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

Disillusioned Tea Party volunteers are angry at Phillips for turning the grass-roots group into a for-profit venture without their consent and for charging more than $500 per person to an event that many worked for but can’t afford.

Local Tea Party insiders say that long-time Republican donor Bill Hemrick [he gave $1000 to the NRCC in late 2009 and to the Fred Thompson and Marsha Blackburn campaigns among others], owner of Upper Deck Trading cards, gave Judson Philips at least $50,000 and maybe the whole $125,000 to cover Tea Party Nation’s Sarah Palin speaker’s fee. This act led Tea Party activists to believe the Tennessee Republican Party has been involved in the closed-door organizing.

Meanwhile, all money made by the sold-out event will go straight to Tea Party Nation, Inc. while grassroots activists have donated their time to make the event happen.

Tami Killmarx, a nurse, and an original member of the Nashville Tea Party Nation Steering Committee says,” I don’t believe for an instant that this money that Judson Philips is making will go to anyone but him. He doesn’t have a PAC. He’s been promising to form a 527.”

He has done neither. Killmarx was asked to leave the Tea Party Nation group of volunteers and kicked off the Tea Party Nation social networking site for voicing her concerns. Her husband, Robert, was asked to leave soon after.

That’s not the only financial funny business Phillips is accused of making. Kevin Smith, the website developer who was never compensated for his work on the Tea Party Nation social networking site and who wrote an insider’s account of the Tea Party Nation dealings, says that Phillips called his account a lie, but offered no proof to the contrary. Smith asserted that Philips mishandled Tea Party funds by paying for expenses out of his wife Sherry’s PayPal account. Judson Phillips did not return my request for comment.

Smith says, “Judson has been very slick and deceptive about PayPal. He’s answered the wrong question. He had two different accounts. One was his wife’s account. After August, there was a TPN account.” Smith was paid from Sherry’s account.

In the same NBC article, reporter Domenico Montanaro notes Judson Phillips personal financial problems:

A background check of various public records databases raises questions about how he has handled money in the past. The search shows that during Phillips filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy in 1999 and during the past decade, he has had three federal tax liens against him, totaling more than $22,000.

In an interview with NBC News, Phillips admitted to the financial difficulties. He declined to comment on the bankruptcy, but said the federal tax liens have been paid off.

Tami Killmarx said that she heard Phillips say more than once, “I want to make a million from this movement.”

Killmarx wasn’t the only volunteer who suspected Phillips intentions were to gain personally. Jerry Williams who ran security for the Tea Party Nation gatherings from the groups inception until August when he resigned, and was slated to handle security at the February 2010 convention, said, “We have a situation that’s like a natural disaster. [Likening the American political climate to a disaster.] You’ve always got people out there who want to make a buck on it. This is the same thing. There’s people out there who want to jump on this Tea Party thing for their own interests. They’re not really worried about the country or the people.”

He continued,”I think Judson is a good guy. He’s trying to do the right thing in the wrong way. We need to do it where everyone can get involved. Most of the people are like me, and just want to bring the country back to the people and to the constitution.”

Williams said that he resigned because he didn’t want to be a part of something that “leaves people out.”

Financial questions and personal gain weren’t the only problems with the Phillips. Internal emails reveal that Sherry Philips who is the Tea Party Nation Vice President forced dissenters from the organization. In one email sent to Anthony Shreeve, another Steering Committee member, Sherry Phillips says:

Due to the events of last Saturday and your indiscretion in relation to the National Tea Party Convention, it is apparent that your loyalties and interests are not compatible with those of Tea Party Nation. It is for this reason I am requesting your resignation from the TPN Advisory Board. I will give you 24 hours to remove yourself from the group before I remove it myself.

In addition, Judson Phillips threatened to sue one woman for her disagreement in an online forum. She asked to not be named for fear of recrimination. From other accounts, threats to sue were common. Judson Phillips is former assistant district attorney and current lawyer specializing in defending those accused of drinking under the influence. The email to the “banished” volunteer is as follows:


Please be advised your relationship with Tea Party Nation, INC, is hereby terminated immediately.

You may not speak on behalf of TPN, exercise any authority on behalf of TPN or interfere in any way with any business relationship tea party nation has;

Further, you will cease and desist from any defamatory statements against myself, or any member of the tea party nation board. You will cease and desist from any attempt to interfere with the National Tea Party Convention or the Sarah Palin appearance.

You fraudulently misrepresented your qualifications to be the planner for such an event. We have spent numerous hours since last Thursday trying to correct your incompetent mistakes. Had we followed your plan, you had us $100,000 in the hole.

You will issue an immediate retraction and apology or you will be defending a law suit for fraud, defamation, intentional interference with a business relationship and malpractice. As you consider this, remember what I do for a living.

Judson PHillips
Tea Party Nation, INC.

Judson Phillips’ threatening email was prompted by this volunteer’s email sent to advisory board members:

To the advisory board:

Right now if the convention were to not happen for whatever reason Judson signed a contract that will leave either him and/or the board responsible for about $110,000. I’m not sure how this will work; perhaps we need a non-profit attorney to explain it.

The reason I am so concerned is that the Opryland wrote to me and told me that they needed to know who to take direction from, me (as the convention coordinator) or Pam and Sherry, as the people going behind my back and meeting with them. This makes TPN and the convention look bad to a very professional organization, the Opryland.. This hotel hosts dignitaries from all parts of the world, entertainment, and political. How embarrassing this is for us as a group for them to see the dirty laundry of TPN. Let’s hope they keep this confidential. Of course, within their walls, I’m sure we are a laughing stock.

I told them to go ahead and take their direction from Pam and Sherry. I will have no part in this type of high school backstabbing.

Many people interviewed about Judson Phillips called him a bully who would cut people out at the first sign of disagreement. More than one grass roots organization representative who interacted with Phillips called him difficult. Tennessee organizers note that there are many splits from Judson’s group and that he’s caused problems for the Tea Party movement state-wide with his divisive actions.

The Tea Party Nation volunteer group really fell apart, though, after the November 7, 2009 planning meeting at the local Golden Corral called The One Year Notice Rally.

Excited organizers found out October 22 that Sarah Palin had chosen to speak to the party. During the meeting, local activists urged Phillips to change the venue so more people could attend as the space was so limited at Opryland. At that point in November, he had 60 days to change the venue but was afraid if he changed it, Palin wouldn’t come speak to the gathering, says one person familiar with the meeting.

When Judson Phillips suggested the $550 convention fee, some members were so aghast they got up and left the meeting.

At one point, fisticuffs nearly broke out, emotions ran so high. Those who had been in the bottom-up organization felt betrayed because the event excluded so many average people and many of the volunteers themselves couldn’t even afford to attend. Philips and his few supporters saw an opportunity to make money.

This meeting prompted many long-time Tea Party members to quit.

To better control the conference planning, Judson Phillips excluded the Steering Committee members and instead included five key people: Sherry Phillips, Pam Farnsworth, sister-in-law to the Phillips, Bruce Donnelly, President of the Chicago-based Surge USA, and Bill Hemrick and his business partner Jason Lukowitz. In one email, Tea Party volunteers were notified that they wouldn’t need to stay for this meeting.

The decision was made to keep the conference, small, expensive and exclusive.

Internal documents show overall expenses to exceed $480,000 including Sarah Palin’s speaking fee. More than one person disclosed that it was quite possible that Phillips would lose money on the conference.

Judson made the comment to Politico that the ticket price was so expensive to cover the speakers fee, but it looks like he did not put the money up for the fee. Either Bill Hemrick gave Tea Party Nation, Inc. the money or paid the Washington Speaker’s Bureau himself. And in fact, the fee isn’t $75,000 but $115,000 plus $10,000 in expenses.

Big donors were sought to underwrite the “Tea Party” including organizations who had helped organize and sponsor citizen-lead events elsewhere. None of these groups wanted to go on the record for fear of recrimination and many refused to attach their name to this event. Those who have continued to sponsor the event are unlikely aware of Judson Phillips’ actions.

Says one original sponsor still deciding whether to stay involved,”This is not the event we signed on to in the beginning.”

The American Liberty Alliance, lead by Eric Odom, announced last week that his group was withdrawing support and would not attend.

Anthony Shreeve, another Steering Committee Member paints the controversy in stark terms,”It’s like a cancer. It’s like it’s consumed Tennessee.”

Shreeve took pains, as did others involved, to say his frustration wasn’t about Sarah Palin’s speaking fee. One person said, “we’re capitalists.” The real concern, Shreeve said, “We want her to endorse the movement with real grassroots people.”

Tami Killmarx echoed the concerns of many grassroots people from Tennessee:

“At every step of the way Judson is trying to poison the waters. He has ruined this for us. This is not “the movement” in Tennessee. People are fighting hard for our country. We are worn out. We have wanted to come out for months [to expose Phillips]. We are trying to salvage this movement. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman need to know what this is. It’s a ruse. Let everyone come and hear Sarah Palin. Un uh, they wanted to make money. They wanted get in bed with the GOP. They don’t want to make it so that everyone can hear Sarah Palin. We wanted to hear her. We wanted to hear someone who believed in us. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman need to understand where they’re coming.

I was in D.C. on 9/12. These weren’t elitist rich people. There were no “activists” there. I don’t have anything to gain to turn Judson in. I have fought too hard for this thing, to see the elderly people pouring out in droves and then be left out now.

Judson Philips stands to make thousands while we are outside the door knocking.”

Killmarx expressed sadness about not getting to see Sarah Palin after volunteering and giving her own money to fund early Nashville Tea Party events.

“I believe in Sarah Palin. I believe in her and she’s a good woman. She’s being deceived like the rest of us.”

  • It is always nice to hear juicey gossip of behind the scenes wrangling but let’s get serious.
    I would sponsor someone to go to Nashville because I know he/she will get some first hand knowledge on organizing for 2010 and 2012 elections.
    I support Fred Thompson , Governor Sarah Palin and Reps. Bachmann and Blackburn. I think the new Tea Party people will get a great deal from the conference . I would go to Nashville too if I could walk.
    *GRIN* Have a GOOD CONVENTION , y’all.

  • DaveR

    The sad part of all this, is this is the type of person the Democrats LOVE to have on their side – because it’s how they run their stuff. This guy needs to be blacklisted and keep being exposed like this. We kick these scumbags OUT of our party.

    It’s too bad the group there in Tenn. can’t get a good pro-bono lawyer to take this guy to court for criminal charges for this %$#%$.

  • Anne Garrett

    Ever since these attacks started, I kept seeing the same three names over and over again. Tony Shreeve, Tami Kilmarx and Kevin Smith. It’s beginning to look alot like a coordinated attack on Mr. Phillips and Tea Party Nation.

    It sounds like a lot of sour grapes from former members who are jealous of Mr. Phillips’ and Tea Party Nation’s success.

    From my POV, Mr. Phillips and Tea Party Nation are providing a service to the movement by providing training as well as a hard-to-get speaker. No one held a gun to the heads of the attendees who made the choice to attend. People are on a waiting list hoping to get tickets (including me).

    I am a member of both Tea Party Nation and Ms. Kilmarx’s site (which I will not promote as I am about to leave that site permanently). I have been told by members of TPN that Ms. Kilmarx was removed because she and her husband started their own Ning based website hoping to duplicate Mr. Phillips’ success with TPN and were using the TPN site to recruit people to their new website.

    After reading Ms. Kilmarx’s venomous attacks, I am inclined to believe them.

  • Jocelyn

    I have to tell you that I believe this is much ado about nothing. We are NOT COMMUNISTS and if Phillips can raise some capital to help political campaigns I see absolutely no harm in it.

    I really think that people who are complaining are actually operatives from the opposition that want to hurt and hamper the Tea Party Movement. Stop it.

    We the People are NOT in the mood.

  • Like Clark Howard (Atlanta’s own consumer advocate) says, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.”

  • Matthew

    Just FYI, there are other organizations that can teach people how to win in 2010 and 2012 that doen’t cost $600 to attend.

    Check out

  • mj

    This is a good article. Many lately have stopped at dropping hints, only referring to Tea Party Nation being a for-profit organization.

    My first response, when learning about the cost, in relation to the iffy economy was thinking, “I can’t afford that.”

    I don’t think Tea Party folks are opposed to capitalism, but this does raise questions regarding actual leadership and training within the movement. It does appear that this event was not tailored to the grassroots.

    My guess is that most anyone who wants it can gain valuable mentorship for the cost of a pizza and a few beers in a local establishment.

  • Jocelyn

    Of course we can gain great mentorship elsewhere. So what? The fact of the matter is that we are weary and leary of those who would attack us from “within” when we have everyone else kicking us in the teeth.

    We have far too much to do and we have far too much to stop for us to waste our time with infighting and sniping and calling each other out for nonsense.

    After they cram Health Care Reform down our throats, amnesty is next. Can we stop with the baloney amongst ourselves so that we can roll up our sleeves and get to work?

    Once again, we are not communists. If you can’t afford $600.00 to go to Memphis, you can’t afford it. Does that make someone else who can and goes less than your or make you less than them? NO. But that’s the kind of garbage that those who oppose us and who have run this country into the ground want you to believe.

    Stay on topic, ladies and gentlemen. The enemy isn’t within our ranks it’s opposing our ranks.

    Vote Scott Brown – and if you can’t vote for him, log onto his site and contribute. See? That didn’t cost a dime, did it?

  • mj

    I never condemned anyone who wishes to go. Your implying so does not make me a Communist.

    The cost is $500, plus transportation, plus hotel. That’s more than $600.

  • Ed in Texas

    I’d be happy to spend the money to go, I’ll just take it from my bonus. Oh, wait. I’m retired and have no bonus. Not that I begrudge those who get bonuses, but I certainly can’t afford the cash to go to this event (plus travel expenses, etc.). As for those who defend with the comment that it is raising money to help candidates, etc. – I have one point to make – you set up the PAC or 527 organization first – not after you set up to collect money. The fact this guy is a lawyer causes me some worry. How did that old joke go, you can tell the lawyers coming from the courthouse on a cold day, they have their hands in other people’s pockets.

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  • As for the above comment from “Ann”(?)and anyone who would doubt the integrity of “the 3 folks who’s names keep popping up” (and I wouldn’t expect you to believe someone you don’t know)the only story you have heard is from the person in question, and the reason why my husband and I were ousted. You haven’t heard our side of this. We were not ousted because of our attempts to lure people off their site…nothing could be further from the truth. We were creating a reference site….their group was included in it and we were trying to promote all tea party groups across the state of Tenn assisting folks in finding groups near them.They didn’t want to work Tennessee and wanted to go national. My husband was still working on their Convention. Until the attacks kept happening directed at all the tea party orgs across Tenn from them, we kept them listed. It became more unbearable to continue doing so, so we took them off our site…our integrity from all the folks across Tenn could not allow us to cont to promote them. You don’t know anything about us here in Tenn and what we have endured. If you want to leave the Tenn groups’ site, fine. You are free to do so. Those who know me and have worked with us know our integrity and what we have suffered from this past year. Until you have been involved in this for the past year, you don’t know the whole truth. All you have heard is one side. And also know this…we are not about trashing Gov Palin or the tea party. We believe in them more than you know. We are about preserving this precious thing called we the people. We have worked all year (and longer)for this movement. And there aren’t just 3 of us here speaking out….there are many, many more…..hundreds who have shouted out in the darkness here in Tenn attempting to reconstitute what has nearly been destroyed. And many more than 3 have come forward to speak to those who would listen about this horrible situation. And many more are coming. The time was not right before….K Smith brought this to the light of day. Unitl you know what we have suffered here… to withhold judgment til you know.

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  • astonerii

    Smiths article that you reference in this article certainly makes the Tennessee Tea Party people seem as though they were sheep perfectly willing to be led. If the Tennessee people had as much fire as they claim to have had they would have ensured that the group was not being run by a single person. Once the single person had gotten the Tennessee Tea Party to a level where it attracted higher quality professionals the volunteers were dismissed and replaced and have many big axes they seem to want to grind in a public forum.

    Smith should have never allowed the lawyer to have sole ownership rights to the website. I would put the blame for this squarely on Smith, as it would have been impossible to incorporate the movement without ownership of mode of operation (the website). It was a volunteer endeavor meant for the Tennessee Tea Party, yet he put it into the hands of one single person. It seems as if every other functionary in the Tennessee Tea Party followed this very same poor choice, to give the responsibility to someone else, and because someone was willing to take that responsibility, they are now angry they are no longer part of the movement management team.

    Maybe the guy everyone is bashing is an evil person, and likes to rape babies and sacrifice virgins. Maybe he is actually a good guy who is working hard to ensure the movement has the right people in the right positions to ensure there are fewer problems. It looks likely that the current worst thing that he is guilty of is being a capitalist. As far as all the financing gimmicks talked about, you can thank your friendly conservative John McCain.

  • Sapwolf

    I think a lot of the confusion is caused because this event is NOT a Tea Party.

    Yes, the pricing is steep but it really is for local reps of tea party groups to send someone to network, train, and workshop.

    It really is not a full-blown party.

    I understand people’s complaints and the concerns of Phillips should be taken seriously.

    I would have definitely moved it to a bigger facility and tiered it so that there could be a low price for people wanting to see the speakers rather than work on the details of the movement and close the media out of the workshops for the full-price conference-goers.

    That’s just me though.

    However, if Mr. Phillips shows any signs of shenanigans, Sarah is the type that will back out in a heartbeat if she smells corruption or other questionable stuff going on. She has already decided not to go to CPAC because of the appearance of shady activities of David Keene and the whole FedEx/UPS brouhaha.

    The best thing Phillips could do now is to move the books above the table and be transparent, and clearly explain his decision-making on why to make it a smaller working conference as opposed to a more full-blown tiered CPAC’y type conference.

  • Why are these hypocrites only now coming out after the fraud was exposed? They have known about this fraud for nearly a year but remained silent because they were too busy enjoying the benefits of riding the tea party wave for their own personal gain. I was banned from many tea party sites MONTHS ago for point out this fraud. If they knew what was going on when it was going on they should have spoken out against it. Not doing so makes them complicit in what I consider a criminal enterprise. These excuses they offer now are only a means of cleansing themselves of the guilt they reek of and to deflect their role in this fraud.

  • TopGun

    Wow. So a bankrupt lawyer, with some IRS liens hanging over his head, wants to participate in the free enterprise system our Constitution provides for us and everyone gets their G-string all in a knot.

    You have two choices, either conduct business with the guy or walk away and conduct business elsewhere in a group that has a non-profit business, but for the love of the country, don’t cry about it all the way to November 2010.

    That is all. You are dismissed.

  • JadedByPolitics

    Keep it Simple Stupid! IMO just as with TCOT on Twitter and the infighting between the two guys who started that when it gets bigger then the local TEA Party Movements you get EGOS and you get THIEVES. I don’t see a need for a National TEA Party Movement because the bottom line is the Movement is about INDIVIDUALS and the desire to send home to rest those who would STEAL our children and grandchildren BLIND TO LIVE LIKE KINGS TODAY!

    Each and everyone of US is the TEA Party for goodness sakes leave the INSANITY to the leftists in this country and meet and greet with your fellow citizens in your state where YOU are going to make a difference. We can only VOTE in one state so that pretty much suggests that WE stick to local parties & issues;!

  • Scott D

    My take on all of this is that there is incredible enthusiasm; energy and high motivation that have been generated from newly formed unaffiliated constituencies and groups of people that have largely never been involved in something like this.

    I compare this situation to the outrageous debacle in Atlanta last 4th of July with the Gwinnett County Tea Party event and the person that was organizing it was spooked by a bluff from the property owner of the Gwinnett Mall asserting contractual control over a agreement that had long expired. Soccer moms don’t negotiate contracts period.

    This was embarrassing to the movement and 20,000 people re-directed to West Cobb County at the last minute on a holiday weekend when 100’s of local DUI checkpoints made that excursion a three-hour trip. Can anyone say Gilligan’s Island?

    There is a natural assumption that this Tea Party Nation would be a non-profit enterprise whether of the tax-deductible sort or not. Mr. Phillips being an attorney is making big promotional and public relations mistakes in his lack of organizational structure in advance of the event. Attorneys are one of the largest groups of the unemployed right now and this guy was an ADA and currently is a DUI Attorney. That is not an impressive resume to me. I say where is the experienced businessman portion of his resume?

    Sarah Palin has appeared and spoken at dozens if not hundreds of FREE events during the presidential campaign and recently during her book tour. For Phillips to not have anticipated the negative impact of his decisions speaks of his own inexperience. His reactions, threats of lawsuits and retaliation are a long worn democrat party strategy. IN ADDITION, he is an attorney a highly suspect constituency that is 90% in the bag for Democrats right now.

    However, charging $500 is a method to identify persons whom can act, participate and be willing to become money bundlers or contributors to the long-term future of the movement. Phillips should be setting up smaller venue in 10 locations around the country for live-tele-web casts for $25 to pay for the expense and promote the movement on a larger scale.

    Where is the business plan? Those of you involved in this and now complaining should have demanded to view the written business plan prior to your amateurishly jumping on this Tea Party Nation-Opryland event band-wagon.

    This is an unfortunate consequence of shortsighted inexperienced persons attempting to corral and profit from incredible outrage hoisted upon us by a maniacal Democrat Party apparatus and an inexperienced resume-lacking President.

    Mr. Phillips does not appear to be very bright. As ACORN has shown us you attache a for-profit corporation in conjunction with a qualified 527- non profit so that it is easier to play the money exchanging games and always appear to comply with both supporters and federal government.This must be done in advance of the very first dollar disbursed.

    This will be used against the movement, consolidate the formerly false label of Astro Turfers and Mr. Phillips will undoubtedly be hiring experienced attorneys to handle the defense of his catastrophic business decisions, assertions and slight of hand faux pauxs long into the future.

  • Scott D

    Judson Phillips End Game Dichotomy

    Judson Phillips pursues a profit capitalizing on the volunteerism of conservatives and moderates. BIG MISTAKE!

    The intellectually deficient and woefully inexperienced businessman Mr. Phillips should have set up a 527-non-profit but not tax-deductible version for the Tea Party Nation (A generic term) and structured that to pay him a $50,000 annual salary. He should have written a 10-Year business plan. Disclosed all agreements and contracts at a critical time in advance of enumeration events and verbally discussed his grand plan with volunteer leaders.

    Along side of that is a for-profit Corporation with a preferably unaffiliated board of directors, capitalized properly and specifically designed to handle event organization, advance planning, direct mailings, polling, advertising, phone banking and GOTV efforts.

    In conjunction with those two is an appropriately organized PAC. Or not? If not a thoughtfully composed reason for that decision.

    Prove SKIN IN THE GAME. Judson Phillips personal investment of about $50,000 each to capitalize the start up of each of these ventures would cement and galvanize credibility. That would be $100,000 and would stifle dissent right out of the gate. You can’t bootstrap a for profit project like this when 98% of the persons involved are working for free. That is a definitive Democrat Party strategy borne on the backs of their victim constituencies. This does not transfer well to Tea Party minded persons.

    The Opryland Event headlined by Sarah Palin should have been promoted as a TEA PARTY LEADERSHIP summit. This explains and validates the $500 plus expenses fee.

    Instead he makes amateurish shortsighted errors not considering the fractured end game dichotomies staring him in the face of Conservatives VS Liberals, For Profit VS Non Profit, Democrat Party Volunteers VS Tea Party Volunteers and mental introspection of Perpetual Victims VS Perennial Contributors. This paragraph can be expanded into a 1000 word essay of the different motivations and objectives of these diverse considerations.

    The Tea Party Activist Groups need organization and well thought out end game results oriented compassionate leadership. Simply earning a profit is way too narrow minded and is sure to cause blow-back of catastrophic proportions giving the opposition and the media FACTUAL talking points in this critical election year. The opposition makes major headway without facts why give them what they’ve never had to have before?

    Liberals and Progressives have been profiting from this for more than 40 years and have written a textbook on it called ACORN.

    I’d say Judson Phillips got the cart before the horse.

  • RogerSherman

    Isn’t the Leadership Institute conducting trainings at the Tea Party Nation Convention?

  • As to the above comment, that is why so many bailed and were ejected from TPN–we questioned the motivations of this group and found their ethics lacking. From the outside looking in, (from other states and outside orgs) it looks like we did nothing. But, what would you have us do. To trash him around the state would have harmed the movement we were trying to propel onward, fighting the real battle (of gov. And this before the announcement of the Convention…would anyone have cared? And until a couple of folks stepped out (Shreeve/Smith), we had agonized over what to do with this Convention. It was creating a problem with the true and the false movement and what it stood for. Further, to take over ownership and to oust Phillips? Understand that most of us are just little people wanting to fight for our country. Most of us did not come into this as activists or even understanding how to do this sort of thing. The original group that found itself shafted by Phillips as Smith states, just went on about its business to becoming a viable group. (This is the Tennessee Tea Party–the group we are discussing here is Tea Party Nation–two different groups). Tennessee folks, for the most part especially in middle Tennessee are well aware of Phillips and the kind of guy he is. And we all just went on and built up our little county groups (this now under the newly formed Coalition). We are strong and communicating amongst ourselves. Until the Convention was announced, we could go on about our business and virtually ignore Phillips–he had done nothing over the past several months. Understand that TPN and Phillips could be easily ignored here as they had no mission, vision, goals….and their aim anyway was to ignore Tennessee, the local little guy individual. They aimed only to become a “national thing.” Whatever that means. In the state we knew what they were…a big nothing, hopefully disappearing eventually. But, the Convention w/ Palin and the rest is turning this nothing into something. And that something is not representative of who and what the rest of us are. And those of us who are fighting the real battle are most concerned that wherever the grassroots is not represented and wherever corruption is, we expose it. Believe me when I tell you that not a one among us desire to be leaders of this thing…look to the coalition forming here now. We are looking for county leaders to emerge. We would rather be taking care of our children, our families, playing golf and working in the garden. Lord help me, I have been doing tea party for a year and working longer (past 2 years) trying to educate myself on the problems in our country. I am tired and want to go home. I had a life before I want to return to. But, country calls and I seemingly can’t rest til we get it back…hopefully. Leader? None of the folks I work with want it. The leader of this ship is we the people and we understand that. Making money? Most of us are loosing our jobs and sacrificing all for this cause. We do events here all the time and do not desire to make money off the people, nor do we. We desired to have a statewide rally where everyone could attend, everyone in the southeast and from around the country. I was at DC 9/12…see what can happen when the people are called to action? Anyway….

  • Patrick Glenn

    Excellent article by Dr. Clouthier and comments by Scott D.

    Reading between the lines, sounds like it would be a big leap to portray what Judson Philips is doing as engaging in private enterprise. The Tea Party movement began in part as a grassroots rejection of both “conservative” and “progressive” versions of rent seeking, which is roughly what Philips is doing (instead of using the government, though, he is using a movement).

    Look, that’s fine if this guy Philips wants to be a businessman. Then he should declare himself as such instead of pretending to be selflessly promoting a cause, while relying on lots of unpaid labor to generate a profit. He’d also have to pay market rate prices for every other expense accrued by his “business.”

    On the other hand, if he really intends to funnel the profits back into “the cause,” then set up the proper structure to do that ahead of time, as Scott D suggests above.

    Ironically, Mr. Philips reminds use that one of the biggest problems the American people face is that rent seeking has become such a customary feature of our lives that, whenever someone engages in it, large numbers of people will defend it either as “free enterprise” or “social justice,” pick your flavor.

    Btw, who is this guy to threaten “cease and desist” in political activity?

  • Alex Brant-Zawadzki

    Another reason people are bailing on the Convention is the Tea Party Express. It’s run by Our Country Deserves Better PAC, which is run by the consulting firm of Russo Marsh & Waters (or Russo March & Associates)and sends something like 75% of the Tea Party Express donations and pay them right into Russo Marsh. A vast majority of the remainder is spent on advertising.

    I wrote a few more details on the convention, like how the Silver Sponsor is Tea Bag Emporium, a group that makes money selling little tiny silver tea bags? Like I have $90 to blow on “inconspicuous consumption”, as they call it?

  • Scott D

    Full Disclosure Disclaimer

    Allow me to assist Mr. Judson Phillips with his ethics, honesty and integrity challenges.

    On his web site at the very top of the page in 24-point cap it should state: Tea Party Nation Inc is a FOR PROFIT CORPORATION that relies on free labor volunteerism of 98% of its employees and contractors. Tea Party Nation Inc plans to make $1,000,000 net dollars on this upcoming event and does not plan to share any of that with the promoted political movement, its grassroots causes and or its employee volunteers.

    Additionally the Tea Party Nation Inc IS an ASTRO-TURF organization as defined by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in their denigrations of the grassroots tea party activists.

    This should sufficiently mute and tame any of the imminent accusations; allegations of impropriety and slam-dunk lawsuits that will effectively harm the brand of unaffiliated groups alike.

    DO IT NOW PHILLIPS! There is nothing wrong with earning a profit.

    Deceiving Defrauding and Deceptively promoting this event harms everyone in the worst possible times in our nations history.

    Hire Erick Erickson of RED STATE immediately to get your affairs in order before its too late.

  • Disaffected members from Tennessee are welcome to join the Asheville Tea Party in North Carolina led by Erika Franzi, And we’re doing a bang up job.

  • abby adams

    What is the membership fee to join tea party nation? Zero. Sounds like mr. phillips’ sin was to successfully snag sarah palin as a speaker. Ms.kilmarx sounds a bit high strung. It’s apparent she doesn’t want to “damage the movement”.

  • Catherine

    Earn a profit? How shocking! We wouldn’t want to acually walk the walk as Free Market proponents now would we? Come on people, stop handing crap to the left, blog posts like this are worse than what is going on in the movement. Make money, that is WHAT KEEPS MOVEMENTS going, and people have been doing this stuff for FREE for years…and done it to great saccrifice to their personal finances and families. I am GLAD that people are finding a way to keep going.

    Keep your eyes on the real enemy, the left, point all your guns in one direction, evaporate them, and THEN you all can fight out who gets to be king of the hill.

  • DaveR

    You sell a PRODUCT for Profit – which people KNOW about before.

    You offer a SERVICE for Profit – which people KNOW about before.

    You don’t high-jack a grassroots movement “for profit”. The ENTIRE reason the Tea PARTY movement started is because we couldn’t STAND this type of behavior from the @#$%@#$%’s in D.C. AND the ones running BOTH parties at the National, and most State’s, level. You winey-asses that are backing this guy’s DISHONEST BEHAVIOR are – read carefully now – PART OF THE PROBLEM. We don’t want you.

  • in ohio

    Phillips is a capitalist, shouldn’t the Tea Party be proud of him? Having said that…

    First. IF there were “volunteers” or donations made under the belief that this was a non-profit venture AND you have evidence to support the belief that it was to be non-profit, then you should certainly make a formal report to the state of TN (likely the Attorney General’s office). IF TPN recruited or solicited donations across state lines, then you should also make a report to the IRS. Solicitation of donations for a venture held out to be for the public good is regulated by all states. As a minimum, it appears that TPN has violated those regulations. Without having registered as a non-profit, they could not have registered for the state solicitation license that is normally required by each state.

    Second, all Federally registered organizations require a minimum of three members on the Board of Directors. Mr Phillips would not be able to retain control (e.g. if he used his wife as a member, then the board would have to be at least 5 members to counter act her relationship to him). As such, I don’t forsee this going to anything more than a TN for-profit corporation.

    Third. I am a Christian Conservative who is currently registered as a Republican. I cannot beging to say how disgusting I find Mr Phillips actions. It is fine if someone wants to make a buck, but it appears that Mr Phillips intentionally misled people into providing free labor to his profit making venture. IF he can honestly prove that those people would have worked for free with the FULL KNOWLEDGE that they were working for his company (and not a non-profit), then I suggest the he make that information publicly available. Otherwise, I believe it is up to those who supported this venture to ensure that it is delt with according to the law. Otherwise, this whole scenario just supports those who claim that Conservatives are idiots. If you can’t clean your house in TN, how in the world would you clean house in DC?

  • Alex Brant-Zawadzki

    I’m almost certain that American Majority will conduct some trainings; they did all summer on the American Liberty Tour. There could be other groups as well.

    American Majority is a project of the Sam Adams Alliance, which originated in Americans for Limited Government. This particular thread leads back to billionaire Howard Rich, Libertarian uber-donor.

  • Salvatore

    Don’t anyone see what is happening? It’s the oldest trick in the books. Infiltrate, divide and conquer. Wow! Do we have Conservative drones actualy falling for this crap! Come on people, leave the circular fireing squade.

  • TopGun

    Here is the real eye opener.

    Someone in Tennessee look up what primaries Mr. Phillips AND Mrs. Phillips have been voting in the last, let’s say, 12 years. Also, how about looking into what campaigns they might have contributed to in the last 12 years. :- O

    His actions look, smell and radiate 100% Democrat. If he ends up being from the “Haters Against America Group / Democrats”, you will have some very damaging information to utilize in the 2010/2012 election cycle.

  • ChamomileTea

    I agree. There is plenty of room for CPAC and the Tea Party convention. The last thing we need to do is tell someone *how* they should be active in the process. I am going to attend the Tea Party convention to learn what I can do better at the local level. Do whatever you want but continue to do something to turn this country around. Many hands make light work.

  • TopGun

    We have had the “six million dollar man” and the “million man march”. Only a lawyer could design a plan to establish the first “One Man Million Dollar March”.

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  • Unfortunately, a lot of this is true: the “Tea Party” name is being used by someone who’s trying to make a quick buck off of it.

    That happens; it’s not a slam on the Tea Party Patriots. It’s just one of those things that happen to people who believe in a cause and get used.

    The ones who are trying to make this into a slam against the Tea Party Patriots are the usual suspects: lib media and Media Matters.

    Still, it would have been better if it had not happened.

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  • In Ohio

    I started out with the “Tea Party” stuff before they started splintering and in-fighting. I assure you that I’m not a liberal. On the other hand, I am also not content to be a sheep among a bunch of wolves who are out for their own financial gain.

    The whole “Tea Party” thing (call it Tea Party Nation or Tea Party Patriots or T E A) has become a blatant worship of money being guided by corporations who want us to be angry at government and not demand that corporations be held accountable.

    This incident and the “tea party” regulars’ acceptance of it is just further proof that the “tea party” is about nothing but the pure unadulterated worship of money. The “tea party” is destroying any hope for recovery of the Republican party, but hey, if you can make a buck off of turning this country over to the Democrats for the next decade, then go for it, right?

    Don’t hold anyone accountable for misleading people (essentially getting free slave labor) in order to build their own forutune. That’s what Wall Street stands for right? The only reason this would be acceptable is if
    (a) You plan to do it yourself
    (b) You’re already controlled by the astroturfers
    (c) You’re really that dumb.

    We need to take this country back from the corporations who are gutting it for their own profit. To do that, we need to get rid of their political drones (from the Republicans AND the Democrats). The Republican party has been sold out to Wall Street and we need to take it back. Unfortunately, the “Tea Party” has become nothing more than another corporate schill.

  • DaveR

    Ohio – Wall Street has been under the control of DEMOCRATS for well over a decade. They made their money off the good old WORKING (and legal) capitalistic system, but once they got theirs and they got in charge, NOW they want to change the rules so nobody else can make it, and they get to “legally” keep it all in the future – with their “buddies” in THIS administration.

    Not that there aren’t Republican’s involved – but check out who those “fat cats” are in league with before you go blaming one particular party and NOT the other one.

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  • Phonies everywhere

    This is not the REAL grass roots Tea Party Movement for the original regular people who are not claiming a party affiliation. This is an offshoot and a theft of the Tea Party name. Call it what it is. Tea Party Nation is an elite Republican organization. Tea Party Movement is the original non-partisan grass roots NON ASTRO TURF revolution and is for the people by the people to have a voice. It’s not about TRAINING> Big freakin difference. Now anyone want to sue for the theft of our name? I go along with what was said up post: This is possibly a wolf in sheeps clothing or better known as an obama fascist infiltraitor. Better not spend that money cause speakers may cancel when they realize this is not the REAL Tea Party grassroots movement. Yep obviously this Justin person saw an opportunity and capitalized on it but it is so unethical and low brow to steal a groups name that I could spit nails. This is just what we are trying to fight against. Stealing a movements name is CORRUPT. And when Sarah gets wind of this watch this high faluting event fall apart before your very eyes. Tea Party Movement as a non-partisan group is in no mood to listen to Mike Steele who is likely for obama. Tea Party Nation is a name designed to trick people into thinking it’s the non-partisan grass roots movement to take back our country from fascism. What a bamboozle. We are so sick of the bamboozle. Damned deadbeat tax evader is running a ghost group of the Tea Party Movement? While we are out there rallying against bad ethics? Well I’ll be darned. It’s sh*t like this that we are trying to fight. Oh and by the way, an event like this would normally require the rental of a Mega Convention Center and not a teensy to mid sized hotel. Maybe something westerners could attend too??? But I digress. Change the freakin name or quit the shenanigans. The name belongs to the Tea Party Movement and was stolen. Of course people will think it’s the Tea Party Movement when it’s the Tea Party Nation but all the while you just call them the Tea Party… this smells.

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  • Daniel

    I remember the Leadership Institute was at the Campaign For Liberty conference in St Louis, where they gave some very informative classes. Great institute,

  • Tea Party Planner

    Thanks Dave, you are spot on in my view and I should know.
    I was one of the Original organizers of the April 15th Tea Party.
    I not only volunteered all of my time,a meeting place for volunteers to plan with refreshments, my back in setting up tables, printing and paying for material, buying snacks, bottled water, first aid kit and much more that I paid for Gladly mind you,out of my own pocket, never knowing behind my back that Judson was planning a for profit business.

    Now, Kevin Smith NEVER told any of us that Judson had discussed any plans with him before. He and Judson changed the name from Tennessee Tea Party 2 or 3 days before the event without discussing it with anyone else, and thats not the only time that Smith acted without clearing with everyone involved.
    He along with Stacie Burke, James Bowman,(who since tried to even destroy my current projects), now RUN and control TN Tea Party…you know the ones that held the event at the Municipal Auditorium?
    All I can tell you is that the people attending that Tax Day Tea Party where real everyday folks who honestly do not have a clue that anything was wrong and the entire Tea Party movement does not need to be destoyed because of this. I attempted to form a nonprofit to help protect ALL of the County organizers and even paid to reserve the name and paid the filing fee, again out of my own pocket. The plan was leave Judson behind to do what he wanted and try to keep all of the grassroots folks from being disheartened and the movement die but again, a “few” in the newly formed group had to have complete control and again leave people out of important discussions. I left the whole thing for good in June.
    Kevin Smith had full support from all the volunteers to contact legal advise when this happened in late April 2009! He choose to keep his mouth shut and not do anything. That was him and he is the one that was demanding payment for services. I spent money but I thought about all the thousands of people that came that day and did not want harm to come to the innocent. Apparently others do not care who they destroy.
    You all want the truth, there it is!

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  • PDR

    Right DaveR, so you are going to tell me the Enrons, WorldComms and Madoffs of the world were all Democrats? Greed is greed, no matter what side of the tracks you are on. It is comments like that, which explain why Republicans can’t get off their high horse to help the American People.

  • A Liberal



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