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ABM Memo: The Truth Behind The Minnesota “Tea Parties”.

Denise Cardinal, ABM’s Executive Director, sent out a memo this afternoon to members of the media exposing the truth behind the fiction of the Minnesota "Tea Parties."

The highlights:

Like the other ones around the country they’re organized by DC-based corporate lobbyists who protect big business, including oil companies. Much of this information can be found online at:

Freedom Works — one of the lobbying firms behind the tea parties — is headed by prominent D.C. lobbyist and former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey. 

Americans for Prosperity run by Tim Phillips, who was Ralph Reed’s former partner in the lobbying firm Century Strategies. The group is funded by Koch family foundations — a family whose wealth is derived from the oil industry

The Tea Parties are not really about "average" citizens — but Neo-nazis, militias and secessionists are among the most active organizers.

Fringe elements and extremists are appearing at tea parties:

Minnesota’s chief organizer is particularly hateful and bizarre; her twitter posts (all sic.) include the following statements (saved PDF is available for reference):

More on the Minnesota Tea Parties:
The Tea Parties are not really being organized by "average" citizens — they are being organized of the fringe conservative groups, with strong coordination with state and national Republican groups..  Many are being organized by prominent, long-time local GOP activists, party insiders, or fringe elements of the right wing.

The Willmar Tea Party is being organized by Rollie Nissen, former chair and current board member of the county GOP.

Nissen attended the "Grassroots Campaign School," sponsored by the MN GOP and put on the the Leadership Institute.  The Leadership Institute’s annual budget of $8 million is financed by contributions from wealthy conservatives (New York Times, 06/2001)

Sponsored by the Olmstead County GOP with various resources from American Solutions, DontGo, Smart Girl Politics, and TCOT, according to their website.

The Fairmont Tea Party is being organized by Neal Breitbarth, a local GOP fundraiser, and  longtime activist.  Breitbarth has attended the RNC and sat on the Rules Committee.

In 1994, Breitbarth supported Quist over Carlson at the GOP State Convention.

He was an early supporter of Mitt Romney in the 2008 primaries, and served on the State Central Steering Committee.

Mille Lacs
The Millie Lacs Tea Party also had a puff piece printed in the local paper.  One of the local organizers, Wendy Stomberg, says the American Family Association recruited her to organize the tea party.  "They sent it to me as an opportunity to express, at a grass roots level, the disappointment at the current administration and the policies that are being placed into law."

The American Family Association is a fundamentalist Christian lobbying group, which has a Minnesota affiliate.  The AFA is known for its campaigns against abortion, pornography, and gambling and its unapologetic stance against "the homosexual agenda."

Twin Cities
The Twin Cities Tea Party lists many sponsors with fringe conservative ties, including:

  • Minnesotans for Immigration Reform
    • A member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
    • In response to a comment Liberian president Ellen Johnson made in front of a Minnesota audience, regarding the progress being made in Liberia, FAIR president Dan Stein, said "It is time for people to go back and rebuild their country. . . for Liberians to stay when their country is at peace would be an abuse of U.S. hospitality"  More here.

Read the full memo at


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