Tea and Antipathy

Who’s cashing in on (and clashing within) the tea party movement.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Dale Robertson

DALE ROBERTSON, TEAPARTY.ORG: Claiming to be the founder of the tea party movement, he’s bought up domain names like teaparty.org and tried to sell them off. Competing tea partiers have tried to discredit him by circulating a photo of him carrying a racist sign at a rally (right).

Tea Party Express

TEA PARTY EXPRESS: This nationwide bus tour is organized by a political action committee called Our Country Deserves Better; the original idea was cooked up by GOP consulting firm Russo Marsh & Rogers. According to Politico, the Tea Party Express raised more than $2.7 million; of the $4.1 million spent by the PAC, nearly half has gone to Russo Marsh.

Mark Meckler

MARK MECKLER, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: The former political consultant turned tea party spokesman has come under fire for his ties to the GOP. He once worked for the group that underwrote the anti-Hillary Clinton movie at the center of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision—which allows unlimited corporate money to flow into the election system so many tea partiers despise.

Judson Phillips

JUDSON PHILLIPS, TEA PARTY NATION: The founder of the for-profit Tea Party Nation borrowed money to pay Sarah Palin $100,000 to headline a $500-plus-per-person Nashville convention in February. Phillips said he’d plow any profits back into the movement, and he has since said the money will help pay for a July confab in Las Vegas.

Sarah Palin

SARAH PALIN: New York magazine estimates that the half-term governor and tea party favorite has made more than $12 million since early 2009. Her Tea Party Nation fee included $18,000 for a private jet for her five-person entourage. She has signed up with Fox News for a reported $1 million a year, and her Sarah PAC has raised $2.5 million.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend