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Please Stop Calling the Freshmen

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, November 15 2010

That is, in fact, the subject line on a fairly frantic email that the Tea Party Patriots, one of the umbrella groups claiming to represent local tea party outfits, blasted out to their list Friday night. You might recall that that tea party group started an email action last week to protest the fact that the California-based Claremont Institute scheduled an orientation for incoming Republican members of Congress at precisely the same time as the tea partiers had planned their welcoming event. And that action included calling on people to call the freshman to demand that they come to the tea party event, which involved sending out what turned out to be the personal cell phone and email addresses of dozens of incoming members of Congress (including, actually a few folks who'd actually lost their races -- ouch).

The email campaign was an attempt by the Tea Party Patriot organizers to claim some ownership over the incoming class of Republicans, before it got completely co-opted by "insider" forces.

"You Have Been Heard!," reads the body of Friday's Tea Party Patriot email, in giant red font. It goes on. "Thank you for making calls to your Congressmen-elect urging them to attend our freshman orientation this weekend.  It's time to turn off the heat," it reads. "If you forwarded our original email asking you to make calls, or if you posted it on your site, please let folks know to stop.  You've made your point, and it's time to let the Freshmen get to work."

The tea partiers' Friday night email was apologetic. But by Saturday afternoon it was clear that the Tea Party Patriot organizers had lost their patience with people who had given them a hard time for blasting out the personal contact information, people like Red State's Erick Erickson, who called move "just wrong." Where where those critics, a Saturday follow-up email asked, rhetorically, when tea party organizers had their contact information revealed?

"Both Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler have had personal private information posted online," reads the email, "including home addresses and phone numbers. Those who are complaining that congressmen had their personal phone numbers and email addresses listed so that constituents could reach them, didn't express a bit out [sic] outrage at the egregious invasion of Jenny Beth's and Mark's privacy."

And, in a parting shot, "Jenny Beth and Mark didn't go to the media complaining about it."