Too many (tea) parties, not enough (any) amityby Dara Kam | January 19th, 2010
Florida Tea Partiers accuse Orlando political activist Doug Guetzloe and his cohorts of hijacking the “Tea Party” brand in a lawsuit filed in federal court today.
Florida Tea Party Chairman Fred O’Neal, Guetzloe and Nicholos Egoroff registered the minor political party with the Department of State in August. Since then, the Tea Party and Guetzloe have backed state Sen. Paula Dockery in her GOP primary bid for governor.
But the suit, filed by activists throughout the state unassociated with O’Neal or Guetzloe, accuses the two of being johnny-come-lately’s to the Tea Party movement and now they want their name back.
“We believe the identity of the Florida Tea Party has been hijacked by cynical forces,” South Florida Tea Party chairman Everett Wilkinson said. “We are especially concerned the group is improperly leveraging
the tea party movement to support the gubernatorial campaign of Sen. Paula Dockery.”
The lawsuit accuses leaders of the newly-formed Tea Party of threatening lawsuits against other Tea Party factions for using the Tea Party name.
And it accuses them of threatening to run third party candidates against Republicans and Democrats.
That goes against the true Tea Party platform, the lawsuit contends, in which the break-aways consider themselves a faction of the Republican Party.
“The registered party and original Florida Tea Party activists are miles apart in our political agenda and priorities,” Wilkinson said. “Make no mistake: the Tea Party on the Florida ballot is not the grassroots group you may think it is.”